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HtfWLO  a  Lff  LI9RAR1 

Digitized  by  the  Internet  Arcinive 
in  2011  with  funding  from 
Brigham  Young  University 

'Augustus   Roiin.' 

^U_J-ti   ^, 









Author's  place  of  birth — Description  of  country — Its  inhabit- 
ants— Genealogical  trees — Method  of  counting  time  in  slave 
districts — Date  of  author's  birth — Names  of  grandparents — 
Their  cabin — Home  with  them — Slave  practice  of  separating 
mothers  from  their  children — Author's  recollections  of  his 
mother — Who  was  his  father? 25 


Author's  early  home — Its  charms — Author's  ignorance  of  "old 
master" — His  gradual  perception  of  the  truth  concerning 
him — His  relations  to  Col.  Edward  Lloyd — Author's  removal  to 
"  old  master's  "  home — His  journey  thence — His  separation  from 
his  grandmother — His  grief .29 


Col.  Lloyd's  plantation — Aunt  Katy — Her  cruelty  and  ill-nature — 
Capt.  Anthony's  partiality  to  Aunt  Katy — Allowance  of  food — 
Author's  hunger — Unexpected  rescue  by  his  mother — The  re- 
proof of  Aunt  Katy — Sleep — A  slave-mother's  love — Author's 
inheritance — His  mother's  acquirements — Her  death.         .        .     34 


Home  plantation  of  Colonel  Lloyd — Its  isolation — Its  industries — 
The  slave  rule — Power  of  overseers — Author  finds  some  enjoy- 


mcnt — Natural  scenery — Sloop  "Sally  Lloyd" — Wind-mill — 
Slave  quarter — "Old  master's"  house — Stables,  storehouses, 
etc.,  etc. — The  great  house^.— Its  surroundings — Lloyd  Burial- 
place — Superstition  of  Slaves — Colonel  Lloyd's  wealth — Negro 
politeness — Doctor  Copper — Captain  Anthony — His  family — 
Master  Daniel  Lloyd — His  brothers — Social  etiquette.        .        .    40 


Increasing  acquaintance  with  old  master — Evils  of  unresisted 
passion — Apparent  tenderness — A  man  of  trouble — Custom  of 
muttering  to  himself — Brutal  outrage — A  drunken  overseer — 
Slaveholder's  impatience — Wisdom  of  appeal — A  base  and 
selfish  attempt  to  break  up  a  courtship 50 


The  author's  early  reflections  on  Slavery — Aunt  Jennie  and  Uncle 
Noah — Presentiment  of  one  day  becoming  a  freeman — Conflict 
between  an  overseer  and  a  slave  woman — Advantage  of  resist- 
ance— Death  of  an  overseer — Col.  Lloyd's  plantation  home — 
Monthly  distribution  of  food — Singing  of  Slaves — An  expla- 
nation— The  slaves'  food  and  clothing — Naked  children — Life 
in  the  quarter — Sleeping-places — not  beds — Deprivation  of  sleep 
— Care  of   nursing  babies — Ash  cake — Contrast.      .        ,        .56 


Contrasts — Great  House  luxuries — Its  hospitality — Entertain- 
ments— Fault-finding — Shameful  humiliation  of  an  old  and 
faithful  coachman — William  Wilks — Curious  incident — Ex- 
pressed satisfaction  not  always  genuine — Reasons  for  suppress- 
ing the  truth 65 


Austin  Gore — Sketch  of  his  character — Overseers  as  a  class — 
Their  peculiar  characteristics — The  marked  individuality  of 


Austin  Gore— His  sense  of  duty— Murder  of  poor  Denby— Sen- 
sation— How  Gore  made  his  peace  with  Col.  Lloyd — Other 
horrible  murders— No  laws  for  the  protection  of  slaves  possible 
of  being  enforced '^5 


Miss  Lucretia— Her  kindness— How  it  was  manifested — "  Ike  " — 
A  battle  with  him— Miss  Lucretia's  balsam— Bread— How  it  was 
obtained— Gleams  of  sunset  amidst  the  general  darkness — 
Suffering  from  cold— How  we  took  our  meal  mush — Prepara- 
tions for  going  to  Baltimore — Delight  at  the  change — Cousin 
Tom's  opinion  of  Baltimore — Arrival  there — Kind  reception — 
Mr.  and  Mrs.  Hugh  Auld— Their  son  Tommy— My  relations  to 
them — My  duties — A  turning-point  in  my  life 83 



City  annoyances — Plantation  regrets — My  mistress — Her  history — 
Her  kindness — My  master — His  sourness — My  comforts — In- 
creased sensitiveness — My  occupation — Learning  to  read — Bane- 
ful effects  of  slaveholding  on  my  dear,  good  mistress — Mr. 
Hugh  forbids  Mrs.  Sophia  to  teach  me  further — Clouds  gather 
on  my  bright  prospects — Master  Auld's  exposition  of  the  Phi- 
losophy of  Slavery — City  slaves — Country  slaves — Contrasts — 
Exceptions — Mr.  Hamilton's  two  slaves — Mrs.  Hamilton's  cruel 
treatment  of  them — Piteous  aspect  presented  by  them — No  power 
to  come  between  the  slave  and  slaveholder 91 


My  mistress — Her  slaveholding  duties — Their  effects  on  her  origi- 
nally noble  nature — The  conflict  in  her  mind — She  opposes  my 
learning  to  read — Too  late — She  had  given  me  the  "inch,"  I  was 
resolved  to  take  the  "  ell " — How  I  pursued  my  study  to  read — 
My  tutors — What  progress  I  made — Slavery — What  I  heard 
said  about  it — Thirteen  years  old — Columbian  orator— Dia- 
logue— Speeches — Sheridan — Pitt — Lords  Chatham  and  Fox — 
Knowledge  increasing — Liberty — Singing — Sadness — Unhappi- 


ness  of  Mrs.  Sopliia — My  hatred    of    slavery — One  Upas  tree 
overshadaws  us  all 99 



Abolitionists  spoken  of — Eagerness  to  know  the  meaning  of 
word — Consults  the  dictionary — Incendiary  information — The 
enigma  solved — "Nat  Turner"  insurrection — Cholera — Relig- 
ion— Methodist  minister — Religious  impressions  —  Father  Law- 
son — His  character  and  occupation — His  influence  over  me — 
Our  mutual  attachment — New  hopes  and  aspirations — Heavenly 
light — Two  Irishmen  on  wharf — Conversation  with  them — 
Learning  to  write — My  aims 108 


Death  of  old  Master's  son  Richard,  speedily  followed  by  that  of 
old  Master — Valuation  and  division  of  all  the  property,  includ- 
ing the  slaves — Sent  for  to  come  to  Hillsborough  to  be  valued 
and  divided — Sad  prospects  and  grief — Parting — Slaves  have  no 
voice  in  deciding  their  own  destinies — General  dread  of  falling 
into  Master  Andrew's  hands — His  drunkenness — Good  fortune  in 
falling  to  Miss  Lucretia — She  allows  my  return  to  Baltimore — 
Joy  at  Master  Hugh's — Death  of  Miss  Lucretia — Master  Thomas 
Auld's  second  marriage — The  new  wife  unlike  the  old — Again 
removed  from  Master  Hugh's — Reasons  for  regret — Plan  of 
escape 116 



St.  Michaels  and  its  inhabitants — Capt,  Auld — His  new  wife — 
Sufferings  from  hunger — Forced  to  steal — Argument  in  vindica- 
tion thereof — Southern  camp -meeting — What  Capt.  Auld  did 
there — Hopes — Suspicions — The  result — Faith  and  works  at 
variance — Position  in  the  church — Poor  Cousin  Henny — Metho- 
dist preachers — Their  disregard  of  the  slaves — One  exception — 
Sabbath-school — How  and  by  whom  broken  up — Sad  change  in 
my  prospects — Covey,  the  negro-breaker 126 



Journey  to  Covey's — Meditations  by  the  way— Covey's  house — 
Family — Awkwardness  as  a  field  hand — A  cruel  beating — Why 
given — Description  of  Covey — First  attempt  at  driving  oxen — 
Hair-breadth  escape— Ox  and  man  alike  property— Hard  labor 
more  effective  than  the  whip  for  breaking  down  the  spirit — 
Cunning  and  trickery  of  Covey — Family  worship — Shocking 
and  indecent  contempt  for  chastity — Great  mental  agitation — 
Anguish  beyond  description 140 


Experience  at  Covey's  summed  up — First  six  month's  severer 
than  the  remaining  six — Preliminaries  to  the  change— Reasons 
for  narrating  the  circumstances — Scene  in  the  treading-yard — 
Author  taken  ill — Escapes  to  St.  Michaels — The  pursuit — Suffer- 
ing in  the  woods — Talk  with  Master  Thomas — His  beating — 
Driven  back  to  Covey's — The  slaves  never  sick — Natural  to 
expect  them  to  feign  sickness— Laziness  of  slaveholders.  .        .  155 


A  sleepless  night — Return  to  Covey's — Punished  by  him — The 
chase  defeated — Vengeance  postponed — Musings  in  the  woods — 
The  alternative — Deplorable  spectacle — Night  in  the  woods — 
Expected  attack — Accosted  by  Sandy — A  friend,  not  a  master — 
Sandy's  hospitality — The  ash-cake  supper— Interview  with 
Sandy — His  advice — Sandy  a  conjuror  as  well  as  a  Christian — 
The  magic  root — Strange  meeting  with  Covey — His  manner — 
Covey's  Sunday  face — Author's  defensive  resolve — The  fight — 
The  victory,  and  its  results 164 


Change  of  masters — Benefits  derived  by  change — Fame  of  the 
fight  with  Covey — Reckless  unconcern — Author's  abhorrence  of 
slavery — Ability  to  read  a  cause  of  prejudice — The  holidays — 


How  spent— Sharp  bit  at  slavery — Effects  of  holidays — Differ- 
ence between  Covey  and  Freeland — An  irreligious  master 
preferred  to  a  religious  one — Hard  life  at  Covey's  useful  to  the 
author — Improved  condition  does  not  bring  contentment — Con- 
genial society  at  Freeland's — Author's  Sabbath-school — Secrecy 
necessary — Affectionate  relations  of  tutor  and  pupils — Confi- 
dence and  friendship  among  slaves — Slavery  the  inviter  of 
vengeance .  179 


New  Year's  thoughts  and  meditations — Again  hired  by  Freeland — 
Kindness  no  compensation  for  slavery — Incipient  steps  toward 
escape — Considerations  leading  thereto — Hostility  to  slavery — 
Solemn  vow  taken — Plan  divulged  to  slaves — Columbian  orator 
again — Scheme  gains  favor — Danger  of  discovery — Skill  of 
slaveholders  —  Suspicion  and  coercion  — Hymns  with  double 
meaning — Consultation — Pass-word — Hope  and  fear — Ignorance 
of  Geography — Imaginary  difRculties — Patrick  Henry — Sandy 
a  dreamer — Route  to  the  north  mapped  out — Objections — Frauds 
— Passes — Anxieties — Fear  of  failure — Strange  presentiment — 
Coincidence — Betrayal — Arrests — Resistance — Mrs.  Freeland — 
Prison — Brutal  Jests — Passes  eaten — Denial — Sandy — Dragged 
behind  horses — Slave  traders — Alone  in  prison — Sent  to  Balti- 
more         ....  191 



Nothing  lost  in  my  attempt  to  run  away — Comrades  at  home — 
Reasons  for  sending  me  away — Return  to  Baltimore — Tommy 
changed — Caulking  in  Gardiner's  ship  yard — Desperate  fight — 
Its  causes — Conflict  between  white  and  black  labor — Outrage — 
Testimony — Master  Hugh — Slavery  in  Baltimore — My  condi- 
tion improves — New  associations — Slaveholder's  right  to  the 
slave's  wages — How  to  make  a  discontented  slave.     .        .        .  219 


Closing  incidents  in  my  "Life  as  a  Slave  " — Discontent — Suspi- 
cions— Master's  generosity — Difficulties  in  the  way  of  escape — 


Plan  to  obtain  money— Allowed  to  hire  my  time— A  gleam  of 
hope  — Attend  camp-meeting— Anger  of  Master  Hugh— Tlie 
result — Plans  of  escape— Day  for  departure  fixed — Harassing 
doubts  and  fears— Painful  thoughts  of  separation  from  friends.  233 




Reasons  for  not  having  revealed  the  manner  of  escape — Nothing 
of  romance  in  the  method — Danger — Free  papers — Unjust  tax — 
Protection  papers — "  Free  trade  and  sailors'  rights  " — American 
eagle  —  Railroad  train  —  Unobserving  conductor — Capt.  Mc- 
Gowan — Honest  German — Fears — Safe  arrival  in  Philadelphia 
—Ditto  in  New  York 242 



Loneliness  and  insecurity — "AUender's  Jake"' — Succored  by  a 
sailor — David  Ruggles — Marriage — Steamer  J.  W.  Richmond — 
Stage  to  New  Bedford — Arrival  there — Driver's  detention  of 
baggage — Nathan  Johnson — Change  of  name  — Why  called 
"  Douglass  "—Obtaining  Work— The  Liberatm'  and  its  Editor.  250 



Anti-Slavery  Convention  at  Nantucket — First  Speech — ^Much  Sen- 
sation— Extraordinary  Speech  of  Mr.  Garrison— Anti-Slavery 
Agency — Youthful  Enthusiasm — Fugitive  Slaveship  Doubted- 
Experience  in  slavery  written — Danger  of  Recapture.      .        .  266 



Work  in  Rhode  Island — Dorr  War — Recollections  of  old  friends 
— Further  labors  in  Rliode  Island  and  elsewhere  in  New  Eng- 
land  272 


Anti-Slavery  Conventions  held  in  parts  of  New  England,  and  in 
some  of  the  Middle  and  Western  States — Mobs — Incidents,  etc.  280 


Danger  to  be  averted — A  refuge  sought  abroad — Voyage  on  the 
steamship  Cambria — Refusal  of  first-class  passage — Attractions 
of  the  fore-castle  deck — Hutchinson  family— Invited  to  make  a 
speech — Southerners  feel  insulted — Captain  threatens  to  put 
them  in  irons — Experiences  abroad — Attentions  received — Im- 
pressions of  different  members  of  Parliament,  and  of  other  public 
men — Contrast  with  life  in  America — Kindness  of  friends — 
Their  purchase  of  my  person,  and  the  gift  of  the  same  to  my- 
self—My  return 289 



New  Experiences — Painful -Disagreement-of -Opinion  with  old 
Friends — Final  Decision  to  publish  my  Paper  in  Rochester — 
Its  Fortunes  and  its  Friends — Change  in  my  own  Views  Re- 
garding the  Constitution  of  the  United  States — Fidelity  to 
Conviction — Loss  of  Old  Friends — Support  of  New  Ones — Loss 
of  House,  etc. ,  by  Fire — Triumphs  and  Trials — Underground 
Railroad — Incidents 320 


My  First  Meeting  with  Capt.  John  Brown— The  Free  Soil  Move- 
ment— Colored  Convention — Uncle  Tom's  Cabin — Industrial 
School  for  Colored  People— Letter  to  Mrs.  H.  B.  Stowe.  .        .  337 



Increased  demands  of  slavery — War  in  Kansas — John  Brown's 
raid— His  capture  and  execution— My  escape  to  England  from 
United  States  marshals .  360 


My  connection  with  John  Brown— To  and  from  England— Presi- 
dential contest — Election  of  Abraham  Lincoln.  .        .        .  383 


Recruiting  of  the  54th  and  55th  Colored  Regiments— Visit  to 
President  Lincoln  and  Secretary  Stanton — Promised  a  Commis- 
sion as  Adjutant-General  to  General  Thomas — Disappointment.  408 


Proclamation  of  emancipation — Its  reception  in  Boston — Objec- 
tions brought  against  it — Its  effect  on  the  country — Interview 
with  President  Lincoln — New  York  riots — Re-election  of  Mr. 
Lincoln — His  inauguration,  and  inaugural — ^Vice-President 
Johnson — Presidential  reception — The  fall  of  Richmond — 
Fanueil  Hall— The  assassination — Condolence   ....  436 


Satisfaction  and  anxiety,  new  fields  of  labor  opening — Lyceums 
and  colleges  soliciting  addresses — Literary  attractions — ^Pecu- 
niary gain — Still  pleading  for  human  rights — President  Andy 
Johnson — Colored  delegation — Their  reply  to  him — National 
Loyalist  Convention,  1866,  and  its  procession — Not  wanted — 
Meeting  with  an  old  friend — Joy  and  surprise — The  old  master's 
welcome,  and  Miss  Amanda's  friendship — Enfranchisement 
debated  and  accomplished — The  negro  a  citizen.        .        .        .  453 



Inducement  to  a  political  career — Objections — A  newspaper  en- 
terprise— The  New  National  Era — Its  abandonment — The 
Freedman's  Saving  and  Trust  Company — Sad  experience — 
Vindication 484 


The  Santo  Domingo  controversy — Decoration  Day  at  Arlington, 
1871 — Speech  delivered  there — National  colored  convention  at 
New  Orleans,  1872 — Elector  at  large  for  the.  State  of  New  York 
— Death  of  Hon.  Henry  Wilson 494 


Return  to  "old  master" — A  last  interview — Capt.  Auld's  admis- 
sion '  *  had  I  been  in  your  place,  I  should  have  done  as  you 
did  " — Speech  at  Easton — The  old  jail  there — Invited  to  a  sail 
on  the  revenue  cutter  Guthrie — Hon.  John  L.  Thomas — Visit 
to  the  old  plantation — Home  of  Col.  Lloyd — Kind  reception  and 
attentions — Familiar  scenes — Old  memories — Burial-ground — 
Hospitality — Gracious  reception  from  Mrs.  Buchanan — A  little 
girl's  floral  gift — A  promise  of  a  "good  time  coming  "—Speech 
at  Harper's  Ferry,  Decoration  day,  1881 — Storer  College — Hon. 
A.  J.  Hunter. 533 


Hon.  Gerrit  Smith  and  Mr.  E.  C.  Delevan — Experiences  at  Hotels 
and  on  Steamboats  and  other  modes  of  travel — Hon.  Edward 
Marshall— Grace  Greenwood — Hon.  Moses  Norris — Robert  J. 
IngersoU — Reflections  and  conclusions — Compensations.  .        .  551 


Grateful  recognition — ^Friends  in  need — Lucretia  Mott — Lydia 
Maria  Child— Sarah  and  Angelina  Grimke— Abby  Kelley— H. 
Beecher  Stowe— Other  Friends— Woman  Suffrage.    .       .        .  566 


^^^-€HAPTER  XIX. 


Meeting  of  colored  citizens  in  Washington  t6  express  their  sym- 
pathy at  the  great  national  bereavement,  the  death  of  President 
Garfield — Concluding  reflections  and  conviction.  .        .  577 


Oration  at  the  unveiling  of  the  Freedmen's  monument,  at  Lin- 
coln Park,  Washington,  D.  C,  April  14,  1876 — Extract  from  a 
speech  delivered  at  Elmira,  N.  Y.,  August  1,  1880.    .        .        .  584 


1.  Portrait  of  the  Author  on  Steel,  .        .  .  Face  title. 

2.  The  last  time  he  saw  his  Mother,  .           .           .36 

3.  Whippestg  of  old  Barney,    .  .           .           .           .70 

4.  Gore  shooting  Denby,  .           .           .           .           .79 

5.  Mrs.  Auld  teaching  him  to  read,  .           .           .94 

6.  Found  in  the  woods  by  Sandy,      ....  166 

7.  Driven  to  jail  for  running  away,  .           ,           .  208 

8.  His  present  home  in  Washington,  .           .           .  243 

9.  At  the  wharf  in  Newport,  ....  254 

10.  Fighting  the  mob  in  Indiana,        ....  285 

11.  Portrait  of  John  Brown,    ....  335 

12.  Portrait  of  Wm.  Lloyd  Garrison,  .           .           .  403 

13.  Portrait  of  Wendell  Phillips,    ....  461 
14  Portrait  of  Charles  Sumner,        ....  497 

15.  Commissioners  to  Santo  Domingo,  ....  503 

16.  Marshal  at  President  Garfield's  Inauguration,        .  521 

17.  Revisits  his  old  home,  .....  545 

18.  Portrait  of  Abraham  Lincoln  on  Steel,  .           .  599 


JUST  what  this  country  has  in  store  to  benefit  or  to  startle  the 
world  in  the  future,  no  tongue  can  tell.  We  know  full  well  the 
wonderful  things  which  have  occurred  or  have  been  accomplished 
here  in  the  past,  but  the  still  more  wonderful  things  which  we  may 
well  say  will  happen  in  the  centuries  of  development  which  lie  be- 
fore us,  is  vain  conjecture ;  it  lies  in  the  domain  of  speculation. 

America  will  be  the  field  for  the  demonstration  of  truths  not  now 
accepted  and  the  establishment  of  a  new  and  higher  civilization. 
Horace  Walpole's  prophecy  will  be  verified  when  there  shall  be  a 
Xenophon  at  New  York  and  a  Thucydides  at  Boston.  Up  to  this 
time  the  most  remarkable  contribution  this  country  has  given  to  the 
world  is  the  Author  and  subject  of  this  book,  now  being  introduced 
to  the  public — Frederick  Douglass.  The  contribution  comes  natu- 
rally and  legitimately  and  to  some  not  unexpectedly,  nevertheless  it 
is  altogether  unique  and  must  be  regarded  as  truly  remarkable. 
Our  Pantheon  contains  many  that  are  illustrious  and  worthy,  but 
Douglass  is  unlike  all  others,  he  is  sui  generis.  For  every  other 
great  character  we  can  bring  forward,  Europe  can  produce  another 
equally  as  great  ;  when  we  bring  forward  Douglass,  he  cannot  be 

Douglass  was  born  a  slave,  he  won  his  liberty ;  he  is  of  negro 
extraction,  and  consequently  was  despised  and  outraged ;  he  has  by 
his  own  energy  and  force  of  character  commanded  the  respect  of 
the  Nation ;  he  was  ignorant,  he  has,  against  law  and  by  stealth 
and  entirely  unaided,  educated  himself;  he  was  poor,  he  has  by 
honest  toil  and  industry  become  rich  and  independent,  so  to  speak ; 
he,  a  chattel  slave  of  a  hated  and  cruelly  wronged  race,  in  the  teeth 
of  American  prejudice  and  in  face  of  nearly  every  kind  of  hindrance 
and  draw -back,  has  come  to  be  one  of  the  foremost  orators  of  the 
age,  with  a  reputation  established  on  both  sides  of  the  Atlantic ;  a 
writer  of  power  and  elegance  of  expression ;  a  thinker  whose  views 



are  potent  in  controlling  and  shaping  public  opinion ;  a  high  officer 
in  the  National  Government ;  a  cultivated  gentleman  whose  virtues 
as  a  husband,  father,  and  citizen  are  the  highest  honor  a  man  can 

Frederick  Douglass  stands  upon  a  pedestal ;  he  has  reached  this 
lofty  height  through  years  of  toil  and  strife,  but  it  has  been  the 
strife  of  moral  ideas ;  strife  in  the  battle  for  human  rights.  No 
bitter  memories  come  from  this  strife ;  no  feelings  of  remorse  can 
rise  to  cast  their  gloomy  shadows  over  his  soul ;  Douglass  has  now 
reached  and  passed  the  meridian  of  life,  his  co-laborers  in  the  strife 
have  now  nearly  all  jiassed  away.  Garrison  has  gone,  Gerritt  Smith 
has  gone,  Giddingsand  Sumner  have  gone, — nearly  all  the  abolition- 
ists are  gone  to  their  reward.  The  culmination  of  his  life  w^ork  has 
been  reached ;  the  object  dear  to  his  heart — the  Emancipation  of  the 
slaves — had  been  accomplished,  through  the  blessings  of  God ;  he 
stands  facing  the  goal,  already  reached  by  his  co-laborers,  with  a 
halo  of  peace  about  him,  and  nothing  but  serenity  and  gratitude 
must  fill  his  breast.  To  those,  who  in  the  past — in  ante-bellum  days 
— in  any  degree  shared  with  Douglass  his  hopes  and  feelings  on  the 
slavery  question,  this  serenity  of  mind,  this  gratitude,  can  be  under- 
stood and  felt.  All  Americans,  no  matter  what  may  have  been  their 
views  on  slavery,  now  that  freedom  has  come  and  slavery  is  ended, 
must  have  a  restful  feeling  and  be  glad  that  the  source  of  bitterness 
and  trouble  is  removed.  The  man  who  is  sorry  because  of  the 
abolition  of  slavery,  has  outlived  his  day  and  generation ;  he  should 
have  insisted  upon  being  buried  with  the  "lost  cause"  at  Appo- 

We  rejoice  that  Douglass  has  attained  unto  this  exalted  position 
— this  pedestal.  It  has  been  honorably  reached ;  it  is  a  just  recogni- 
tion of  talent  and  effort ;  it  is  another  proof  that  success  attends 
high  and  noble  aim.  With  this  example,  the  black  boy  as  well  as 
the  white  boy  can  take  hope  and  courage  in  the  race  of  life. 

Douglass'  life  has  been  a  romance — and  a  fragrance — to  the  age. 
There  has  been  just  enough  mystery  about  his  origin  and  escape 
from  slavery  to  throw  a  charm  about  them.  The  odd  proceedings 
in  the  purchase  of  his  freedom  after  his  escape  from  slavery ;  his 
movements  in  connection  with  the  John  Brown  raid  at  Harper's 
Ferry  and  his  subsequent  flight  across  the  ocean  are  romantic  as 
anything  which  took  place  among  the  crags  and  the  cliffs,  the 
Roderick  Dhus  and  Douglasses  of  the  Lady  of  the  Lake ;  while  the 
pure  life  he  has  led  and  his  spotless  character  are  sweet  by  contrast 


with  the  lives  of  mere  politicians  and  time-serving  statesmen.  It 
is  well  to  contemplate  one  like  him,  who  has  had  *' hair-breadth 
escapes. "  It  is  inspiring  to  know  that  the  day  of  self-sacrifice  and 
self-development  are  not  passed. 

To  say  that  his  life  has  been  eventful,  is  hardly  the  word.  From 
the  time  when  he  first  saw  the  light  on  the  Tuckahoe  plantation  up 
to  the  time  he  was  called  to  fill  a  high  official  position,  his  life  has 
been  crowded  with  events  which  in  some  sense  may  be  called  mira- 
cles, and  now  since  his  autobiography  has  come  to  be  written,  we 
must  understand  the  hour  of  retrospect  has  come — for  casting  up 
and  balancing  accounts  as  to  work  done  or  left  undone. 

It  is  more  than  forty  years  now  that  he  has  been  before  the  world 
as  a  writer  and  speaker — busy,  active,  wonderful  years  to  him — and 
we  are  called  upon  to  pass  judgment  upon  his  labors.  What  can 
we  say?  Can  he  claim  the  well  done  good  and  faithful?  The 
record  shows  this,  and  we  must  state  it,  generally  speaking,  his  life 
had  been  devoted  to  his  race  and  the  cause  of  his  race.  The  free- 
dom and  elevation  of  his  people  has  been  his  life  work,  and  it  has 
been  done  well  and  faithfully.  That  is  the  record,  and  that  is  suffi- 
cient. No  higher  eulogium  can  be  pronounced  than  that  Long- 
fellow says  of  the  Village  Blacksmith : — 

"  Something  attempted,  something  done. 
Has  earned  a  night's  repose.'" 

"X  Douglass  found  his  people  enslaved  and  oppressed.  He  has  given 
the  best  years  of  his  life  to  the  improvement  of  their  condition,  and, 
now  that  he  looks  back  upon  his  labors,  may  he  not  say  he  has 
''attempted  "  and  "done"  something?  and  may  he  not  claim  the 
"repose"  which  ought  to  come  in  the  evening  of  a  well  spent 

The  first  twenty -three  years  of  Douglass'  life  were  twenty-three 
years  of  slavery,  obscurity,  and  degradation,  yet  doubtless  in  time 
to  come  these  years  will  be  regarded  by  the  student  of  history  the 
most  interesting  portion  of  his  life ;  to  those  who  in  the  future 
would  know  the  inside  history  of  American  slavery,  this  part  of  his 
life  will  be  specially  instructive.  Plantation  life  at  Tuckahoe  as 
related  by  him  is  not  fiction,  it  is  fact ;  it  is  not  the  historian's  dis- 
sertation on  slavery,  it  is  slavery  itself,  the  slave's  life,  acts,  and 
thoughts,  and  the  life,  acts,  and  thoughts  of  those  around  him.  It 
is  Macauley  ( I  think)  wlio  says  that  a  copy  of  a  daily  newspaper 
[if  there  were  such]  published  at  Rome  would  give  more  informa- 
tion and  be  of  more  value  than  any  history  we  have.     So,  too,  this 


photographic  view  of  slave  life  as  given  to  us  in  the  autobiography 
of  an  ex-slave  will  give  to  the  reader  a  clearer  insight  of  the  system 
of  slavery  than  can  be  gained  from  the  examination  of  general  history. 

Col.  Lloyd's  plantation,  where  Douglass  belonged,  was  very  much 
like  other  plantations  of  the  south.  Here  was  the  great  house  and 
the  cabins,  the  old  Aunties,  and  patriarchal  Uncles,  little  picannin- 
ics  and  picanninies  not  so  little,  of  every  shade  of  complexion,  from 
ebony  black  to  whiteness  of  the  master  race ;  mules,  overseers,  and 
broken  down  fences.  Here  was  the  negro  Doctor  learned  in  the 
science  of  roots  and  herbs ;  also  the  black  conjurer  with  his  divina- 
tion. Here  was  slave-breeding  and  slave-selling,  whipping,  tortur- 
ing and  beating  to  death.  All  this  came  under  the  observation  of 
Douglass  and  is  a  part  of  the  education  he  received  while  under  the 
yoke  of  bondage.  He  was  there  in  the  midst  of  this  confusion, 
ignorance,  and  brutality.  Little  did  the  overseer  on  this  plantation 
think  that  he  had  in  his  gang  a  man  of  superior  order  and  un- 
daunted spirit,  whose  mind,  far  above  the  minds  of  the  grovelling 
creatures  about  him,  was  at  that  very  time  plotting  schemes  for  his 
liberty ;  nor  did  the  thought  ever  enter  the  mind  of  Col.  Lloyd, 
the  rich  slaveholder,  that  he  had  upon  his  estate  one  who  was  des- 
tined to  assail  the  system  of  slavery  with  more  power  and  effect 
than  any  other  person. 

Douglass'  fame  will  rest  mainly,  no  doubt,  upon  his  oratory. 
His  powers  in  this  direction  are  very  great,  and,  in  some  respects, 
unparalleled  by  our  living  speakers.  His  oratory  is  his  own,  and 
apparently  formed  after  the  model  of  no  single  person.  It  is  not 
after  the  Edmund  Burke  style,  which  has  been  so  closely  followed 
by  Everett,  Sumner,  and  others,  and  which  has  resulted  in  giving 
us  splendid  and  highly  embellished  essays  rather  than  natural  and 
not  overwrought  speeches.  If  his  oratory  must  be  classified,  it 
should  be  placed  somewhere  between  the  Fox  and  Henry  Clay 
schools.  Like  Clay,  Douglass'  greatest  effect  is  upon  his  immediate 
hearers,  those  who  see  him  and  feel  his  presence,  and,  like  Clay,  a 
good  part  of  his  oratorical  fame  will  be  tradition.  The  most  strik- 
ing feature  of  Douglass'  oratory  is  his  fire,  not  the  quick  and 
flashy  kind,  but  the  steady  and  intense  kind.  Years  ago,  on  the 
anti-slavery  platform,  in  some  sudden  and  unbidden  outburst  of 
passion  and  indignation,  he  has  been  known  to  awe-inspire  his  lis- 
teners as  though  ^tna  were  there. 

If  oratory  consists  of  the  power  to  move  men  by  spoken  words, 
Douglass  is  a  complete  orator.     He  can  make  men  laugh  or  cry,  at 


his  will.  He  has  power  of  statement,  logic,  withering  denuncia- 
tion, pathos,  humor,  and  inimitable  wit.  Daniel  Webster,  with  his 
immense  intellectuality,  had  no  humor,  not  a  particle.  It  does  not 
appear  that  he  could  even  see  the  point  of  a  joke.  Douglass  is 
brim  full  of  humor,  at  times,  of  the  dryest  kind.  It  is  of  a  quiet 
kind.  You  can  see  it  coming  a  long  way  off  in  a  peculiar  twitch  of 
his  mouth.  It  increases  and  broadens  gradually  until  it  becomes 
irresistible  and  all-pervading  with  his  audience. 

Douglass'  rank  as  a  writer  is  high,  and  justly  so.  His  writings, 
if  anything,  are  more  meritorious  than  his  speaking.  For  many 
years  he  was  the  editor  of  newspapers,  doing  all  of  the  editorial 
work.  He  has  contributed  largely  to  magazines.  He  is  a  forcible 
and  thoughtful  writer.  His  style  is  pure  and  graceful,  and  he  has 
great  felicity  of  expression.  His  written  productions,  in  finish, 
compare  favorably  with  the  written  productions  of  our  most  culti- 
vated writers.  His  style  comes  partly,  no  doubt,  from  his  long  and 
constant  practice,  but  the  true  source  is  his  clear  mind,  which  is 
well  stored  by  a  close  acquaintance  with  the  best  authors.  His 
range  of  reading  has  been  wide  and  extensive.  [He  has  been  a  hard 
student.  In  every  sense  of  the  word,  he  is  a  self-made  man?^  By 
dint  of  hard  study  he  has  educated  himself,  and  to-day  it  may  be 
said  he  has  a  well-trained  intellect.  He  has  surmounted  the  disad- 
vantage of  not  having  a  university  education,  by  application  and 
well-directed  effort.  He  seems  to  have  realized  the  fact,  that  to 
one  who  is  anxious  to  become  educated  and  is  really  in  earnest,  it  is 
not  positively  necessary  to  go  to  college,  and  that  information  may 
be  had  outside  of  college  walks;  books  may  be  obtained  and  read 
elsewhere.  They  are  not  chained  to  desks  in  college  libraries,  as 
they  were  in  early  times  at  Oxford.  Professors'  lectures  may  be 
bought  already  printed,  learned  doctors  may  be  listened  to  in  the 
lyceum,  and  the  printing-press  has  made  it  easy  and  cheap  to  get 
information  on  every  subject  and  topic  that  is  discussed  and  taught 
in  the  university.  Douglass  never  made  the  mistake  (a  common 
one)  of  considering  that  his  education  was  finished.  He  has  con- 
tinued to  study,  he  studies  now,  and  is  a  growing  man,  and  at  this 
present  moment  he  is  a  stronger  man  intellectually  than  ever 

Soon  after  Douglass'  escape  from  Maryland  to  the  Northern 
States,  he  commenced  his  public  career.  It  was  at  New  Bedford, 
as  a  local  Methodist  preacher,  and  by  taking  part  in  small  public 
meetings  held  by  colored  people,  wherein  anti-slavery  and   other 


matters  were  discussed.  There  he  laid  the  foundation  of  the  splen- 
did career  which  is  now  about  drawing  to  a  close.  In  these  meet- 
ings Douglass  gave  evidence  that  he  possessed  uncommon  powers, 
and  it  was  plainly  to  be  seen  that  he  needed  only  a  field  and  oppor- 
tunity to  display  them.  That  field  and  opportunity  soon  came,  as 
it  always  does  to  possessors  of  genius.  He  became  a  member  and 
agent  of  the  American  Anti-Slavery  society.  Then  commenced  his 
great  crusade  against  slavery  in  behalf  of  his  oppressed  brethren  at 
the  South. 

He  waged  violent  and  unceasing  war  against  slavery.  He  went 
through  every  town  and  hamlet  in  the  Free  States,  raising  his  voice 
against  the  iniquitous  system. 

Just  escaped  from  the  prison-house  himself,  to  tear  down  the 
walls  of  the  same  and  to  let  the  oppressed  go  free  was  the  mission 
which  engaged  the  powers  of  his  soul  and  body.  North,  East,  and 
West,  all  through  the  land  went  this  escaped  slave,  delivering  his 
warning  message  against  the  doomed  cities  of  the  South.  The 
ocean  did  not  stop  nor  hinder  him.  Across  the  Atlantic  he  went, 
through  England,  Ireland,  and  Scotland.  Wherever  people  could 
be  found  to  listen  to  his  story,  he  pleaded  the  cause  of  his  enslaved 
and  down-trodden  brethren  with  vehemence  and  great  power. 
From  1840  to  1861,  the  time  of  the  commencement  of  the  civil 
war,  which  extirpated  slavery  in  this  country,  Douglass  was  continu- 
ally speaking  on  the  platform,  writing  for  his  newspaper  and  for 
magazines,  or  working  in  conventions  for  the  abolition  of  slavery. 

The  life  and  work  of  Douglass  has  been  a  complete  vindication 
of  the  colored  people  in  this  respect.  It  has  refuted  and  over- 
thrown the  position  taken  by  some  writers,  that  colored  people 
were  deficient  in  mental  qualifications  and  were  incapable  of  attain- 
ing high  intellectual  position.  We  may  reasonably  expect  to  hear 
no  more  of  this  now,  the  argument  is  exploded.  Douglass  has  set- 
tled the  fact  the  right  way,  and  it  is  something  to  settle  a  fact. 

That  Douglass  is  a  brave  man  there  can  be  little  doubt.  He  has 
physical  as  well  as  moral  courage.  His  encounter  with  the  over- 
seer of  the  eastern  shore  plantation  attests  his  pluck.  There  the 
odds  were  against  him,  everything  was  against  him.  There  the 
unwritten  rule  of  law  was,  that  the  negro  who  dared  to  strike  a 
white  man  must  be  killed ;  but  Douglass  fought  the  overseer  and 
whipped  him.  His  plotting  with  other  slaves  to  escape,  writing 
and  giving  them  passes,  and  the  unequal  and  desperate  fight  main- 
tained by  him  in  the  Baltimore  ship  yard,  where  law  and  public 


sentiment  were  against  him,  also  show  that  he  has  courage.  But 
since  the  day  of  his  slavery,  while  living  here  at  the  North,  many 
instances  have  happened  which  show  very  plainly  that  he  is  a  man 
of  courage  and  determination.  If  he  had  not  been,  he  would  have 
long  since  succumbed  to  the  brutality  and  violence  of  the  low  and 
mean-spirited  people  found  in  the  Free  States. 

Up  to  a  very  recent  date  it  has  been  deemed  quite  safe,  even  here 
in  the  North,  to  insult  and  impose  on  inoffensive  colored  people,  to 
elbow  a  colored  man  from  the  sidewalk,  to  jeer  at  him  and  apply 
vile  epithets  to  him.  In  some  localities  this  has  been  the  rule  and 
not  the  exception,  and  to  put  him  out  of  public  conveyances  and 
public  places  by  force  was  of  common  occurrence.  It  made  little 
difference  that  the  colored  man  was  decent,  civil,  and  respectably 
clad,  and  had  paid  his  fare.  If  the  proprietor  of  the  place  or  his 
patrons  took  the  notion  that  the  presence  of  the  colored  man  was 
an  affront  to  their  dignity  or  inconsistent  with  their  notions  of  self- 
respect,  out  he  must  go.  Nor  must  he  stand  upon  the  order  of  his 
going,  but  go  at  once.  It  was  against  this  feeling  that  Douglass 
had  to  contend.  He  met  it  often.  He  was  a  prominent  colored 
man  traveling  from  place  to  place.  A  good  part  of  the  time  he 
was  in  strange  cities,  stopping  at  strange  taverns — that  is,  when  he 
was  allowed  to  stop.  Time  and  again  has  he  been  refused  accom- 
modation in  hotels.  Time  and  again  has  he  been  in  a  strange  place 
with  nowhere  to  lay  his  head  until  some  kind  anti-slavery  person 
would  come  forward  and  give  him  shelter. 

The  writer  of  this  remembers  well,  because  he  was  present  and 
saw  the  transaction,  the  John  Brown  meeting  in  Tremont  Temple, 
in  1860,  when  a  violent  mob,  composed  of  the  rough  element  from 
the  slums  of  the  city,  led  and  encouraged  by  bankers  and  brokers, 
came  into  the  hall  to  break  up  the  meeting.  Douglass  was  presid- 
ing. The  mob  was  armed ;  the  police  were  powerless ;  the  mayor 
could  not  or  would  not  do  anything.  On  came  the  mob,  surging 
through  the  aisles,  over  benches,  and  upon  the  platform.  The 
women  in  the  audience  became  alarmed  and  fled.  The  hirelings 
were  prepared  to  do  anything ;  they  had  the  power  and  could  with 
impunity.  Douglass  sat  upon  the  platform  with  a  few  chosen 
spirits,  cool  and  undaunted.  The  mob  had  got  about  and  around 
him.  He  did  not  heed  their  howling  nor  was  he  moved  by  their 
threats.  It  was  not  until  their  leader,  a  rich  banker,  with  his  fol- 
lowers, had  mounted  the  platform  and  wrenched  the  chair  from 
under  him  that  he  was  dispossessed.     By  main  force  and  personal 


violence  (Douglass  resisting  all  the  time)  they  removed  him  from 
the  platform. 

It  affords  me  great  pleasure  to  introduce  to  the  public  this  book, 
"The  Life  and  Times  of  Frederick  Douglass."  I  am  glad  of  the 
opportunity  to  present  a  work  which  tells  the  story  of  the  rise  and 
progress  of  our  most  celebrated  colored  man.  To  the  names  of 
Toussaint  L'Overture  and  Alexander  Dumas  is  to  be  added  that  of 
Frederick  Douglass.  We  point  with  pride  to  this  trio  of  illustrious 
names.  I  bid  my  follow  countrymen  take  new  hope  and  courage. 
The  near  future  will  bring  us  other  men  of  worth  and  genius,  and 
our  list  of  illustrious  names  will  become  lengthened.  Until  that 
time  the  duty  is  to  work  and  wait. 






Author's  place  of  birth — Description  of  country — Its  inhabitants — 
Genealogical  trees — Method  of  counting  time  in  slave  districts — 
Date  of  author's  birth — Names  of  grandparents — Their  cabin — 
Home  with  them — Slave  practice  of  separating  mothers  from  their 
children — Author's  recollections  of  his  mother — Who  was  his 


IN  Talbot  County,  Eastern  Shore,  State  of  Maryland, 
near  Easton,  the  county  town,  there  is  a  small  district 
of  country,  thinly  populated,  and  remarkable  for  nothing 
that  I  know  of  more  than  for  the  worn-out,  sandy,  desert- 
like appearance  of  its  soil,  the  general  dilapidation  of 
its  farms  and  fences,  the  indigent  and  spiritless  character 
of  its  inhabitants,  and  the  prevalence  of  ague  and  fever. 
It  was  in  this  dull,  flat,  and  unthrifty  district  or  neighbor- 
hood, bordered  by  the  Choptank  river,  among  the  laziest 
and  muddiest  of  streams,  surrounded  by  a  white  popula- 
tion of  the  lowest  order,  indolent  and  drunken  to  a  pro- 
verb, and  among  slaves  who,  in  point  of  ignorance  and 
indolence,  were  fully  in  accord  with  their  surroundings, 
that  I,  without  any  fault  of  my  own,  was  born,  and  spent 
the  first  years  of  my  childhood. 

The  reader  must  not  expect  me  to  say  much  of  my 
family.     Genealogical  trees  did  not  flourish  among  slaves. 
A  person  of  some  consequence  in  civilized  society,  some- 
times designated  as  father,   was   literally   unknown   to 
2  (25) 


slave  law  and  slave  practice.  I  never  met  with  a 
slave  in  that  part  of  the  country  who  could  tell  me  with 
any  certainty  how  old  he  was.  Few  at  that  time  knew 
anything  of  the  months  of  the  year  or  of  the  days  of  the 
month.  They  measured  the  ages  of  their  children  by 
spring-time,  winter-time,  harvest-time,  planting-time,  and 
the  like.  Masters  allowed  no  questions  to  be  put  to  them 
by  slaves  concerning  their  ages.  Such  questions  were 
regarded  by  the  masters  as  evidence  of  an  impudent  curi- 
osity. From  certain  events,  however,  the  dates  of  which 
I  have  since  learned,  I  suppose  myself  to  have  been  born 
in  February,  1817. 

My  first  experience  of  life,  as  I  now  remember  it,  and  I 
remember  it  but  hazily,  began  in  the  family  of  my  grand- 
mother and  grandfather,  Betsey  and  Isaac  Bailey.  They 
were  considered  old  settlers  in  the  neighborhood,  and 
from  certain  circumstances  I  infer  that  my  grandmother, 
especially,  was  held  in  high  esteem,  far  higher  than  was 
the  lot  of  most  colored  persons  in  that  region.  She  was 
a  good  nurse,  and  a  capital  hand  at  making  nets  used  for 
catching  shad  and  herring,  and  was,  withal,  somewhat 
famous  as  a  fisherwoman.  I  have  known  her  to  be  in 
the  water  waist  deep,  for  hours,  seine-hauling.  She  was 
a  gardener  as  well  as  a  fisherwoman,  and  remarkable  for 
her  success  in  keeping  her  seedling  sweet  potatoes  through 
the  months  of  winter,  and  easily  got  the  reputation  of 
being  born  to  "  good  Hick."  In  planting-time  Grand- 
mother Betsey  was  sent  for  in  all  directions,  simply  to 
place  the  seedling  potatoes  in  tlie  hills  or  drills ;  for 
superstition  had  it  that  her  touch  was  needed  to  make 
them  grow.  This  reputation  was  full  of  advantage  to  her 
and  her  grandchildren,  for  a  good  crop,  after  her  plant- 
ing for  the  neighbors,  brought  her  a  share  of  the  har- 

Whether  because  she  was  too  old  for  field  service,  or 

HIS    PARENTS.  27 

because  slie  had  so  faithfully  discharged  the  duties  of  her 
station  in  early  life,  I  know  not,  but  she  enjoyed  the  high 
privilege  of  living  in  a  cabin  separate  from  the  quarters, 
having  only  the  charge  of  the  young  children  and  the  bur- 
den of  her  own  support  imposed  upon  her.  She  esteemed 
it  great  good  fortune  to  live  so,  and  took  much  comfort 
in  having  the  children.  The  practice  of  separating 
mothers  from  their  children  and  hiring  them  out  at  dis- 
tances too  great  to  admit  of  their  meeting,  save  at  long 
intervals,  was  a  marked  feature  of  the  cruelty  and  bar- 
barity of  the  slave  system  ;  but  it  was  in  harmony  with 
the  grand  aim  of  that  system,  which  always  and  every- 
where sought  to  reduce  man  to  a  level  with  the  brute.  It 
liad  no  interest  in  recognizing  or  preserving  any  of  the 
ties  that  bind  families  together  or  to  their  homes. 

My  grandmother's  five  daughters  were  hired  out  in  this 
way,  and  my  only  recollections  of  my  own  mother  are  of 
a  few  hasty  visits  made  in  the  night  on  foot,  after  the 
daily  tasks  were  over,  and  when  she  was  under  the  neces- 
sity of  returning  in  time  to  respond  to  the  driver's  call  to 
the  field  in  the  early  morning.  These  little  glimpses  of 
my  mother,  obtained  under  such  circumstances  and 
against  such  odds,  meager  as  they  were,  are  ineffaceably 
stamped  upon  my  memory.  She  was  tall  and  finely  pro- 
portioned, of  dark,  glossy  complexion,  with  regular  fea- 
tures, and  amongst  the  slaves  was  remarkably  sedate  and 
dignified.  There  is,  in  "  Prichard's  Natural  History  of 
Man,"  the  head  of  a  figure,  on  page  157,  the  features  of 
which  so  resemble  my  mother  that  I  often  recur  to  it 
with  something  of  the  feelings  which  I  suppose  others  ex- 
perience when  looking  upon  the  likenesses  of  their  own 
dear  departed  ones. 

Of  my  father  I  know  nothing.  Slavery  had  no  recog- 
nition of  fathers,  as  none  of  families.  That  the  mother 
was  a  slave  was  enough  for  its  deadly  purpose.      By  its 


law  the  child  followed  the  condition  of  its  mother.  The 
father  might  be  a  freeman  and  the  child  a  slave.  The 
father  might  be  a  white  man,  glorying  in  the  purity  of  his 
Anglo-Saxon  blood,  and  the  child  ranked  with  the  blackest 
slaves.  Father  he  might  be,  and  not  be  husband,  and 
could  sell  his  own  child  without  incurring  reproach,  if  in 
its  veins  coursed  one  drop  of  African  blood. 



Author's  early  home — Its  charms — Author's  ignorance  of  "old  mas- 
ter"— His  gradual  perception  of  the  truth  concerning  him — His 
relations  to  Col.  Edward  Lloyd — Author's  removal  to  "old  mas- 
ter's "  home — His  journey  thence — His  separation  from  his  grand- 
mother— Plis  grief. 

LIVING  thus  with  my  grandmother,  whose  kindness 
and  love  stood  in  place  of  my  mother's,  it  was  some 
time  before  I  knew  myself  to  be  a  slave.  I  knew  many 
other  things  before  I  knew  that.  Her  little  cabin 
liad  to  me  the  attractions  of  a  palace.  Its  fence-railed 
floor — which  was  equally  floor  and  bedstead — up  stairs, 
and  its  clay  floor  down  stairs,  its  dirt  and  straw  chimney, 
and  windowless  sides,  and  that  most  curious  piece  of 
workmanship,  the  ladder  stairway,  and  the  hole  so  strange- 
ly dug  in  front  of  the  fire-place,  beneath  which  grand- 
mamma placed  her  sweet  potatoes,  to  keep  them  from 
frost  in  winter,  were  full  of  interest  to  my  childish  obser- 
vation. The  squirrels,  as  they  skipped  the  fences, 
climbed  the  trees,  or  gathered  their  nuts,  were  an  unceas- 
ing delight  to  me.  There,  too,  right  at  the  side  of  the 
hut,  stood  the  old  well,  with  its  stately  and  skyward- 
pointing  beam,  so  aptly  placed  between  the  limbs  of  what 
had  once  been  a  tree,  and  so  nicely  balanced,  that  I  could 
move  it  up  and  down  with  only  one  hand,  and  could  get  a 
drink  myself  without  calling  for  help.  Nor  were  these  all 
tlie  attractions  of  the  place.  At  a  little  distance  stood 
Mr.  Lee's  mill,  where  the  people  came  in  large  numbers 
to  get  their  corn  ground.      I  can  never  tell  the  many 


30  MY   OLD   MASTER. 

tilings  thought  and  felt,  as  I  sat  on  the  bank  and  watched 
that  mill,  and  the  turning  of  its  ponderous  wheel.  The 
mill-pond,  too,  had  its  charms ;  and  with  my  pin-hook 
and  thread  line,  I  could  get  amusing  nibbles  if  I  could 
catch  no  fish. 

It  was  not  long,  however,  before  I  began  to  learn  the 
sad  fact  that  this  house  of  my  childhood  belonged  not  to 
my  dear  old  grandmother,  but  to  some  one  I  had  never 
seen,  and  who  lived  a  great  distance  off*.  I  learned,  too, 
the  sadder  fact,  that  not  only  the  home  and  lot,  but  that 
grandmother  herself  and  all  the  little  children  around 
her  belonged  to  a  mysterious  personage,  called  by  grand- 
mother, with  every  mark  of  reverence, '"  Old  Master." 
Thus  early  did  clouds  and  shadows  begin  to  fall  upon  my 

I  learned  that  this  old  master,  whose  name  seemed 
ever  to  be  mentioned  with  fear  and  shuddering,  only 
allowed  the  little  children  to  live  with  grandmother  for  a 
limited  time,  and  that  as  soon  as  they  were  big  enough 
they  were  promptly  taken  away  to  live  with  the  said  old 
master.  These  were  distressing  revelations,  indeed.  My 
grandmother  was  all  the  world  to  me,  and  the  thought  of 
being  separated  from  her  was  a  most  unwelcome  sugges- 
tion to  my  affections  and  hopes.  This  mysterious  old 
master  was  really  a  man  of  some  consequence.  He 
owned  several  farms  in  Tuckahoe,  was  the  chief  clerk 
and  butler  on  the  home  plantation  of  Colonel  Lloyd,  had 
overseers  as  well  as  slaves  on  his  own  farms,  and  gave 
directions  to  the  overseers  on  the  farms  owned  by  Colonel 
Lloyd.  Captain  Aaron  Anthony,  for  such  is  the  name 
and  title  of  my  old  master,  lived  on  Colonel  Lloyd's  plan- 
tation, which  was  situated  on  the  Wye  river,  and  which 
was  one  of  the  largest,  most  fertile,  and  best  appointed 
in  the  State. 

About  this  plantation  and  this  old  master  I  was  most 


eager  to  know  everything  which  could  be  known ; 
and,  unhappily  for  me,  all  the  information  I  could  get 
concerning  him  increased  my  dread  of  being  separated 
from  my  grandmother  and  grandfather.  I  wished  it  was 
possible  I  could  remain  small  all  my  life,  knowing  that 
the  sooner  I  grew  large  the  shorter  would  be  my  time  to 
remain  with  them.  Everything  about  the  cabin  became 
doubly  dear,  and  I  was  sure  there  could  be  no  other  spot 
equal  to  it  on  earth.  But  the  time  came  when  I  m'ust  go, 
and  my  grandmother,  knowing  my  fears,  in  pity  for 
them,  kindly  kept  me  ignorant  of  the  dreaded  moment 
up  to  the  morning  (a  beautiful  summer  morning)  when 
we  were  to  start ;  and,  indeed,  during  the  whole  journey, 
which,  child  as  I  was,  I  remember  as  well  as  if  it  were 
yesterday,  she  kept  the  unwelcome  truth  hidden  from  me. 
The  distance  from  Tuckahoe  to  Colonel  Lloyd's,  where 
my  old  master  lived,  was  full  twelve  miles,  and  the  walk 
was  quite  a  severe  test  of  the  endurance  of  my  young 
legs.  The  journey  would  have  proved  too  severe  for  me, 
but  that  my  dear  old  grandmother  (blessings  on  her 
memory)  afforded  occasional  relief  by  "toteing"  me  on 
her  shoulder.  Advanced  in  years  as  she  was,  as  was  evi- 
dent from  the  more  than  one  gray  hair  which  peeped 
from  between  the  ample  and  graceful  folds  of  her  newly 
and  smoothly-ironed  bandana  turban,  grandmother  was 
yet  a  woman  of  power  and  spirit.  She  was  remarkably 
straight  in  figure,  elastic  and  muscular  in  movement.  I 
seemed  hardly  to  be  a  burden  to  her.  She  would  have 
*' toted"  me  farther,  but  I  felt  myself  too  much  of  a  m'an 
to  allow  it.  Yet  while  I  walked  I  was  not  independent 
of  her.  She  often  found  me  holding  her  skirts  lest 
something  should  come  out  of  the  woods  and  eat  me  up. 
Several  old  logs  and  stumps  imposed  upon  me,  and  got 
themselves  taken  for  enormous  animals.  I  could  plainly 
see  their  legs,  eyes,   ears,  and  teeth,  till  I   got  close 


enough  to  sec  that  the  eyes  were  knots,  washed  white 
witli  rain,  and  the  legs  were  l)roken  limhs,  and  the  ears 
and  teeth  only  such  because  of  the  point  from  which  they 
were  seen. 

As  the  day  advanced  the  heat  increased,  and  it  was  not 
until  the  afternoon  that  we  reached  the  much-dreaded 
end  of  the  journey.  Here  I  found  myself  in  the  midst 
of  a  group  of  children  of  all  sizes  and  of  many  colors, — 
black,  brown,  copper-colored,  and  nearly  white.  I  had 
not  seen  so  many  children  before.  As  a  new-comer  I 
was  an  object  of  special  interest.  After  laughing  and 
yelling  around  me  and  playing  all  sorts  of  wild  tricks, 
they  asked  me  to  go  out  and  play  with  them.  This  I 
refused  to  do.  Grandmamma  looked  sad,  and  I  could 
not  help  feeling  that  our  being  there  boded  no  good  to 
me.  She  was  soon  to  lose  another  object  of  affection, 
as  she  had  lost  many  before.  Affectionately  patting  me 
on  the  head,  she  told  me  to  be  a  good  boy  and  go  out  to 
play  with  the  children.  They  are  "  kin  to  you,"  she  said, 
"go  and  play  with  them."  She  pointed  out  to  me  my 
brother  Perry,  my  sisters,  Sarah  and  Eliza.  I  had  never 
seen  them  before,  and  though  I  had  sometimes  heard  of 
them  and  felt  a  curious  interest  in  them,  I  really  did  not 
understand  what  they  were  to  me  or  I  to  them.  Broth- 
ers and  sisters  we  were  by  blood,  but  slavery  had  made 
us  strangers.  They  were  already  initiated  into  the  mys- 
teries of  old  master's  domicile,  and  they  seemed  to  look 
upon  me  with  a  certain  degree  of  compassion.  I  really 
wanted  to  play  with  them,  but  they  were  strangers  to  me, 
and  I  was  full  of  fear  that  my  grandmother  might  leave 
for  home  without  taking  me  with  her.  Entreated  to  do 
so,  however,  and  that,  too,  by  my  dear  grandmother,  I 
went  to  the  back  part  of  the  house  to  play  with  them  and 
the  other  children.  Play,  however,  I  did  not,  but  stood 
with  my  back  against  the  wall  witnessing  the  playing  of 

HIS   GRIEF.  33 

the  others.  At  last,  while  standing  there,  one  of  the 
children,  who  had  been  in  the  kitchen,  ran  up  to  me  in  a 
sort  of  roguish  glee,  exclaiming,  "Fed,  Fed,  grand- 
mamma gone ! "  I  could  not  believe  it.  Yet,  fearing  the 
worst,  I  ran  into  the  kitchen  to  see  for  myself,  and  lo ! 
she  was  indeed  gone,  and  was  now  far  away,  and  "clean'' 
out  of  sight.  I  need  not  tell  all  that  happened  now. 
Almost  heart-broken  at  the  discovery,  I  fell  upon  the 
ground  and  wept  a  boy's  bitter  tears,  refusing  to  be  com- 
forted. My  brother  gave  me  peaches  and  pears  to  quiet 
me,  but  I  promptly  threw  them  on  the  ground.  I  had 
never  been  deceived  before,  and  something  of  resentment 
at  this  mingled  with  my  grief  at  parting  with  my  grand- 

It  was  now  late  in  the  afternoon.  The  day  had  been 
an  exciting  and  wearisome  one,  and  I  know  not  where, 
but  I  suppose  I  sobbed  myself  to  sleep ;  and  its  balm  was 
never  more  welcome  to  any  wounded  soul  than  to  mine. 
The  reader  may  be  surprised  that  I  relate  so  minutely  an 
incident  apparently  so  trivial,  and  which  must  have 
occurred  when  I  was  less  than  seven  years  old ;  but,  as  I 
wish  to  give  a  faithful  history  of  my  experience  in  slav- 
ery, I  cannot  withhold  a  circumstance  which  at  the  time 
affected  me  so  deeply,  and  which  I  still  remember  so 
vividly.  Besides,  this  was  my  first  introduction  to  the 
realities  of  the  slave  system. 



Col.  Lloyd's  plantation — Aunt  Katy — Her  cruelty  and  ill-nature — 
Capt.  Anthony's  partiality  to  Aunt  Katy — Allowance  of  food — 
Author's  hunger — Unexpected  rescue  by  his  mother — The  reproof 
of  Aunt  Katy — Sleep — A  slave-mother's  love — Author's  inheritance 
— His  mother's  acquirements — Her  death. 

ONCE  established  on  the  home  plantation  of  Col. 
Lloyd — I  was  with  the  children  there,  left  to  the 
tender  mercies  of  Aunt  Katy,  a  slave  woman,  who  was  to 
my  master  what  he  was  to  Col.  Lloyd.  Disposing  of  us  in 
classes  or  sizes,  he  left  to  Aunt  Katy  all  the  minor  details 
concerning  our  naanagement.  She  was  a  woman  who 
never  allowed  herself  to  act  greatly  within  the  limits  of 
delegated  power,  no  matter  how  broad  that  authority 
might  be.  Ambitious  of  old  master's  favor,  ill-tempered 
and  cruel  by  nature,  she  found  in  her  present  position  an 
ample  field  for  the  exercise  of  her  ill-omened  qualities. 
She  had  a  strong  hold  upon  old  master,  for  she  was  a 
first-rate  cook,  and  very  industrious.  She  was  therefore 
greatly  favored  by  him — and  as  one  mark  of  his  favor  she 
was  the  only  mother  who  was  permitted  to  retain  her 
children  around  her,  and  even  to  these,  her  own  children, 
she  was  often  fiendish  in  her  brutality.  Cruel,  however, 
as  she  sometimes  was  to  her  own  children,  she  was  not 
destitute  of  maternal  feeling,  and  in  her  instinct  to  satisfy 
their  demands  for  food  she  was  often  guilty  of  starving 
me  and  the  other  children.  Want  of  food  was  my  chief 
trouble  during  my  first  summer  here.  Captain  Anthony, 
instead  of  allowing  a  given  quantity  of  food  to  each  slave, 



committed  the  allowance  for  all  to  Aunt  Katy,  to  be  di- 
vided by  her,  after  cooking,  amongst  us.  The  allowance 
consisted  of  coarse  corn-meal,  not  very  abundant,  and 
which,  by  passing  through  Aunt  Katy's  hands,  became  more 
slender  still  for  some  of  us.  I  have  often  been  so  pinched 
with  hunger  as  to  dispute  with  old  "  Nep,"  the  dog,  for 
tlie  crumbs  wdiich  fell  from  the  kitchen  table.  Many 
times  have  I  followed,  with  eager  step,  the  waiting-girl 
when  she  shook  the  table-cloth,  to  get  the  crumbs  and 
small  bones  flung  out  for  the  dogs  and  cats.  It  was  a 
great  thing  to  have  the  privilege  of  dipping  a  piece  of 
bread  into  the  water  in  which  meat  had  been  boiled,  and 
the  skin  taken  from  the  rusty  bacon  was  a  positive  lux- 
ury. With  this  description  of  the  domestic  arrangements 
of  my  new  home,  I  may  here  recount  a  circumstance 
which  is  deeply  impressed  on  my  memory,  as  affording  a 
bright  gleam  of  a  slave-mother's  love,  and  the  earnestness 
of  a  mother's  care.  I  had  offended  Aunt  Katy.  I  do 
not  remember  in  what  way,  for  my  offences  were  numer- 
ous in  that  quarter,  greatly  depending  upon  her  moods  as 
to  their  heinousness,  and  she  had  adopted  her  usual  mode 
of  punishing  me  :  namely,  making  me  go  all  day  without 
food.  For  the  first  hour  or  two  after  dinner  time,  I  suc- 
ceeded pretty  well  in  keeping  up  my  spirits ;  but  as  the 
day  wore  away,  I  found  it  quite  impossible  to  do  so  any 
longer.  Sundown  came,  but  no  bread ;  and  in  its  stead 
came  the  threat  from  Aunt  Katy,  witli  a  scowl  well-suited 
to  its  terrible  import,  that  she  would  starve  the  life  out 
of  me.  Brandishing  her  knife,  she  chopped  off  the  heavy 
slices  of  bread  for  the  other  children,  and  put  the  l®af 
away,  muttering  all  the  while  her  savage  designs  upon 
myself.  Against  this  disappointment,  for  I  was  expect- 
ing that  her  heart  would  relent  at  last,  I  made  an  extra 
effort  to  maintain  my  dignity,  but  when  I  saw  the  other 
children  around  me  with  satisfied  faces,  I  could  stand  it 

36  MY  mother's  visit. 

no  longer.  I  went  out  behind  the  kitchen  wall  and  cried 
like  a  fine  fellow.  When  wearied  with  tliis,  I  returned 
to  the  kitchen,  sat  by  the  fire  and  brooded  over  my  hard 
lot.  I  was  too  hungry  to  sleep.  While  I  sat  in  the  cor- 
ner, I  caught  sight  of  an  ear  of  Indian  corn  upon  an 
upper  shelf.  I  w^atcked  my  chance  and  got  it ;  and  shell- 
ing off  a  few  grains,  I  put  it  back  again.  These  grains  I 
quickly  put  into  the  hot  aslies  to  roast.  I  did  this  at  the 
risk  of  getting  a  brutal  thumping,  for  Aunt  Katy  could 
beat  as  well  as  starve  me.  My  corn  was  not  long  in  roast- 
ing, and  I  eagerly  pulled  it  from  the  aslies,  and  placed  it 
upon  a  stool  in  a  clever  little  pile.  I  began  to  help  my- 
self, when  who  but  my  own  dear  mother  should  come  in. 
The  scene  which  followed  is  beyond  my  power  to  describe. 
The  friendless  and  hungry  boy,  in  his  extremest  need, 
found  himself  in  the  strong,  protecting  arms  of  his 
mother.  I  have  before  spoken  of  my  mother's  dignified 
and  impressive  manner.  I  shall  never  forget  the  inde- 
scribable expression  of  her  countenance  when  I  told  her 
that  Aunt  Katy  had  said  she  would  starve  the  life  out  of 
me.  There  was  deep  and  tender  pity  in  her  glance  at  me, 
and  a  fiery  indignation  at  Aunt  Katy  at  the  same  moment, 
and  while  she  took  the  corn  from  me,  and  gave  in  its 
stead  a  large  ginger-cake,  she  read  Aunt  Katy  a  lecture 
which  was  never  forgotten.  That  night  I  learned  as  I 
had  never  learned  before,  that  I  was  not  only  a  child,  but 
somebody's  child.  I  was  grander  upon  my  mother's  knee 
than  a  king  upon  his  throne.  But  my  triumph  was  short. 
I  dropped  off  to  sleep,  and  waked  in  the  morning  to  find 
my  mother  gone  and  myself  at  the  mercy  again  of  the 
virago  in  my  master's  kitchen,  whose  fiery  wrath  was  my 
constant  dread. 

My  mother  had  walked  twelve  miles  to  see  me,  and  had 
the  same  distance  to  travel  over  again  before  the  morning 
sunrise.     I  do  not  remember  ever  seeing  her  again.     Her 

The  Last  Time  he  saw  his  Mother. 

HER   DEATH.  39 

death  soon  ended  the  little  communication  that  had  ex- 
isted between  us,  and  with  it,  I  believe,  a  life  full  of 
weariness  and  heartfelt  sorrow.  To  me  it  has  ever  been 
a  grief  that  I  knew  my  mother  so  little,  and  have  so  few 
of  her  words  treasured  in  my  remembrance.  I  have  since 
learned  that  she  was  the  only  one  of  all  the  colored  peo- 
ple of  Tuckahoe  who  could  read.  How  she  acquired  this 
knowledge  I  know  not,  for  Tuckahoe  was  the  last  place 
in  the  world  where  she  would  have  been  likely  to  find 
facilities  for  learning.  I  can  therefore  fondly  and  proudly 
ascribe  to  her  an  earnest  love  of  knowledge.  That  a 
field-hand  should  learn  to  read  in  any  slave  State  is  re- 
markable, but  the  achievement  of  my  mother,  consider- 
ing the  place  and  circumstances,  was  very  extraordinary. 
In  view  of  this  fact,  I  am  happy  to  attribute  any  love  of 
letters  I  may  have,  not  to  my  presumed  Anglo-Saxon 
paternity,  but  to  the  native  genius  of  my  sable,  unpro- 
tected, and  uncultivated  mother — a  woman  who  belonged 
to  a  race  whose  mental  endowments  are  still  disparaged 
and  despised. 



Home  Plantation  of  Colonel  Lloyd — Its  Isolation — Its  Industries — 
The  Slave  Rule — Power  of  Overseers — Author  Finds  some  Enjoy- 
ment— Natural  Scenery — Sloop  "  Sally  Lloyd  " — Wind  Mill — Slave 
Quarter — "Old  Master's"  House — Stables,  Store  Houses,  etc.,  etc. 
— The  Great  House — Its  Surroundings — Lloyd  —  Burial-Place — 
Superstition  of  Slaves — Colonel  Lloyd's  Wealth — Negro  Politeness 
— Doctor  Copper — Captain  Anthony — His  Family — Master  Daniel 
Lloyd — His  Brothers — Social  Etiquette. 

IT  was  generally  supposed  that  slavery  in  the  State  of 
Maryland  existed  in  its  mildest  form,  and  that  it  was 
totally  divested  of  those  harsh  and  terrible  peculiarities 
which  characterized  the  slave  system  in  the  Southern  and 
South-Western  States  of  the  American  Union.  The 
ground  of  this  opinion  was  the  contiguity  of  the  free 
States,  and  the  influence  of  their  moral,  religious,  and 
humane  sentiments.  Public  opinion  was,  indeed,  a  meas- 
urable restraint  upon  the  cruelty  and  barbarity  of  mas- 
ters, overseers,  and  slave-drivers,  whenever  and  wherever 
it  could  reach  them  ;  but  there  were  certain  secluded  and 
out-of-the-way  places,  even  in  the  State  of  Maryland,  fifty 
years  ago,  seldom  visited  by  a  single  ray  of  healthy  pub- 
lic sentiment,  where  slavery,  wrapt  in  its  own  congenial 
darkness,  could  and  did  develop  all  its  malign  and  shock- 
ing characteristics,  where  it  could  be  indecent  witliout 
shame,  cruel  without  shuddering,  and  murderous  without 
apprehension  or  fear  of  exposure  or  punishment.  Just 
such  a  secluded,  dark,  and  out-of-the-way  place  was  the 
home  plantation  of  Colonel  Edward  Lloyd,  in  Talbot 
county,  eastern   shore   of   Maryland.     It  was   far  away 


COLONEL  Lloyd's  plantation.  41 

from  all  the  great  thoroughfares  of  travel  and  commerce, 
and  proximate  to  no  town  or  village.  There  was  neither 
school-house  nor  town-house  in  its  neighborhood.  The 
school-house  was  unnecessary,  for  there  were  no  children 
to  go  to  school.  The  children  and  grandchildren  of  Col. 
Lloyd  were  taught  in  the  house  by  a  private  tutor  (a  Mr. 
Page  from  Greenfield,  Massachusetts,  a  tall,  gaunt  sap- 
ling of  a  man,  remarkably  dignified,  thoughtful,  and  reti- 
cent, and  who  did  not  speak  a  dozen  words  to  a  slave  in  a 
whole  year).  The  overseer's  children  went  off  some- 
where in  the  State  to  school,  and  therefore  could  bring 
no  foreign  or  dangerous  influence  from  abroad  to  embar- 
rass the  natural  operation  of  the  slave  system  of  the 
place.  Not  even  the  commonest  mechanics,  from  whom 
tliere  might  have  been  an  occasional  outburst  of  honest 
and  telling  indignation  at  cruelty  and  wrong  on  other 
plantations,  were  white  men  here.  Its  whole  public  was 
made  up  of  and  divided  into  three  classes,  slaveholders, 
slaves,  and  overseers.  Its  blacksmiths,  wheelwrights, 
shoemakers,  weavers,  and  coopers  were  slaves.  Not  even 
commerce,  selfish  and  indifferent  to  moral  considerations 
as  it  usually  is,  was  permitted  within  its  secluded  pre- 
cincts. Whether  with  a  view  of  guarding  against  the 
escape  of  its  secrets,  I  know  not,  but  it  is  a  fact,  that 
every  leaf  and  grain  of  the  products  of  this  plantation 
and  those  of  the  neighboring  farms  belonging  to  Col. 
Lloyd  were  transported  to  Baltimore  in  his  own  vessels, 
every  man  and  boy  on  board  of  which,  except  the  captain, 
were  owned  by  him  as  his  property.  In  return,  every- 
thing brought  to  the  plantation  came  through  the  same 
channel.  To  make  this  isolation  more  apparent,  it  may 
be  stated  that  the  adjoining  estates  to  Col.  Lloyd's  were 
owned  and  occupied  by  friends  of  his,  who  were  as 
deeply  interested  as  himself  in  maintaining  the  slave  sys- 
tem in  all  its  rigor.     These  were  the  Tilgmans,  the  Gold- 



borouglis,  the  Lockcrmans,  the  Pacas,  the  Skinners,  Gib- 
sons, and  others  of  lesser  afilueiice  and  standing. 

The  fact  is,  public  opinion  in  such  a  quarter,  tlie  reader 
must  see,  was  not  likely  to  be  very  efficient  in  protecting 
the  slave  from  cruelty.  To  be  a  restraint  upon  abuses  of 
this  nature,  opinion  must  emanate  from  humane  and  vir- 
tuous communities,  and  to  no  such  opinion  or  influence 
was  Col.  Lloyd's  plantation  exposed.  It  was  a  little 
nation  by  itself,  having  its  own  language,  its  own  rules, 
regulations,  and  customs.  The  troubles  and  controversies 
arising  here  were  not  settled  by  the  civil  power  of  the 
State.  The  overseer  was  the  important  dignitary.  He 
was  generally  accuser,  judge,  jury,  advocate,  and  execu- 
tioner. The  criminal  was  always  dumb,  and  no  slave 
was  allowed  to  testify  other  than  against  his  brother 

There  were,  of  course,  no  conflicting  rights  of  prop- 
erty, for  all  the  people  were  the  property  of  one  man,  and 
they  could  themselves  own  no  property.  Religion  and 
politics  were  largely  excluded.  One  class  of  the  popula- 
tion was  too  high  to  be  reached  by  the  common  preacher, 
and  the  other  class  was  too  low  in  condition  and  igno- 
rance to  be  much  cared  for  by  religious  teachers,  and  yet 
some  religious  ideas  did  enter  this  dark  corner. 

This,  however,  is  not  the  only  view  which  the  place 
presented.  Though  civilization  was,  in  many  respects, 
shut  out,  nature  could  not  be.  Though  separated  from 
the  rest  of  the  world,  though  public  opinion,  as  I  have 
said,  could  seldom  penetrate  its  dark  domain,  though  the 
whole  place  were  stamped  with  its  own  peculiar  iron-like 
individuality,  and  though  crimes,  high-handed  and  atro- 
cious, could  be  committed  there  with  strange  and  shock- 
ing impunity,  it  was,  to  outward  seeming,  a  most  strik- 
ingly interesting  place,  full  of  life,  activity,  and  spirit, 
and  presented  a  very  favorable  contrast  to  the  indolent 


monotony  and  languor  of  Tuckahoc.  It  resembled,  in 
some  respects,  descriptions  I  have  since  read  of  the  old 
baronial  domains  of  Europe.  Keen  as  was  my  regret 
and  great  as  was  my  sorrow  at  leaving  my  old  home,  I 
was  not  long  in  adapting  myself  to  this  my  new  one.  A 
man's  troubles  are  always  half  disposed  of  when  he  finds 
endurance  the  only  alternative.  I  found  myself  here, 
there  was  no  getting  away,  and  naught  remained  for  me 
but  to  make  the  best  of  it.  Here  were  plenty  of  children 
to  play  with  and  plenty  of  pleasant  resorts  for  boys  of 
my  age  and  older.  The  little  tendrils  of  affection,  so 
rudely  broken  from  the  darling  objects  in  and  around  my 
grandmother's  home,  gradually  began  to  extend  and 
twine  themselves  around  the  new  surroundings.  Here, 
for  the  first  time,  I  saw  a  large  windmill,  with  its  wide- 
sweeping  white  wings,  a  commanding  object  to  a  child's 
eye.  This  was  situated  on  what  was  called  Long  Point — 
a  tract  of  land  dividing  Miles  river  from  the  Wye.  I 
spent  many  hours  here  watching  the  wings  of  this  won- 
drous mill.  In  the  river,  or  what  was  called  the 
"Swash,"  at  a  short  distance  from  the  shore,  quietly 
lying  at  anchor,  with  her  small  row  boat  dancing  at  her 
stern,  was  a  large  sloop,  the  Sally  Lloyd,  called  by  that 
name  in  honor  of  the  favorite  daughter  of  the  Colonel. 
These  two  objects,  the  sloop  and  mill,  as  I  remember, 
awakened  thoughts,  ideas,  and  wondering.  Then  here 
were  a  great  many  houses,  human  habitations  full  of  the 
mysteries  of  life  at  every  stage  of  it.  There  was  the  lit- 
tle red  house  up  the  road,  occupied  by  Mr.  Seveir,  the 
overseer.  A  little  nearer  to  my  old  master's  stood  a 
long,  low,  rough  building  literally  alive  with  slaves  of  all 
ages,  sexes,  conditions,  sizes,  and  colors.  This  was 
called  the  long  quarter.  Perched  upon  a  hil'i  east  of  our 
house,  was  a  tall,  dilapidated  old  brick  building,  the 
architectural  dimensions  of  which  proclaimed  its  creation 


for  a  different  purpose,  now  occupied  by  slaves,  in  a  simi- 
lar manner  to  the  long  quarters.  Besides  these,  there 
were  numerous  other  slave  houses  and  huts  scattered 
around  in  the  neighborhood,  every  nook  and  corner  of 
which  were  completely  occupied. 

Old  master's  house,  a  long  brick  building,  plain  but 
substantial,  was  centrally  located,  and  was  an  independ- 
ent establishment.  Besides  these  houses  there  were 
barns,  stables,  store-houses,  tobacco-houses,  blacksmith 
shops,  wheelwright  shops,  cooper  shops ;  but  above  all 
there  stood  the  grandest  building  my  young  eyes  had 
ever  beheld,  called  by  every  one  on  the  plantation  the 
great  house.  This  was  occupied  by  Col.  Lloyd  and  his 
family.  It  was  surrounded  by  numerous  and  variously- 
shaped  out-buildings.  There  were  kitchens,  wash-houses, 
dairies,  summer-houses,  green-houses,  hen-houses,  turkey- 
houses,  pigeon-houses,  and  arbors  of  many  sizes  and 
devices,  all  neatly  painted  or  whitewashed,  interspersed 
with  grand  old  trees,  ornamental  and  primitivCj  which 
afforded  delightful  shade  in  summer  and  imparted  to  the 
scene  a  high  degree  of  stately  beauty.  The  great  house 
itself  was  a  large  wliite  wooden  building  with  wings  on 
three  sides  of  it.  In  front  a  broad  portico  extended  the 
entire  length  of  the  building,  supported  by  a  long  range 
of  columns,  which  gave  to  the  Colonel's  home  an  air  of 
great  dignity  and  grandeur.  It  was  a  treat  to  my  young 
and  gradually  opening  mind  to  behold  this  elaborate 
exhibition  of  wealth,  power,  and  beauty. 

The  carriage  entrance  to  the  house  was  by  a  large  gate, 
more  than  a  quarter  of  a  mile  distant.  The  intermediate 
space  was  a  beautiful  lawn,  very  neatly  kept  and  cared 
for.  It  was  dotted  thickly  over  with  trees  and  flowers. 
The  road  or  lane  from  the  gate  to  the  great  house  was 
richly  paved  with  white  pebbles  from  the  beach,  and  in  its 
course  formed  a  complete  circle  around  the  lawn.      Out- 


side  this  select  enclosure  were  parks,  as  about  the  resi- 
dences of  the  English  nobility,  where  rabbits,  deer,  and 
other  wild  game  might  be  seen  peering  and  playing  about, 
Avith  "  none  to  molest  them  or  make  them  afraid.''  The 
tops  of  the  stately  poplars  were  often  covered  with  red- 
winged  blackbirds,  making  all  nature  vocal  with  the  joy- 
ous life  and  beauty  of  their  wild,  warbling  notes.  These 
all  belonged  to  me  as  well  as  to  Col.  Edward  Lloyd,  and, 
whether  they  did  or  not,  I  greatly  enjoyed  them.  Not 
far  from  the  great  house  were  the  stately  mansions  of  the 
dead  Lloyds — a  place  of  somber  aspect.  Vast  tombs,  em- 
bowered beneath  the  weeping  willow  and  the  fir  tree,  told 
of  the  generations  of  the  family,  as  well  as  their  wealth. 
Superstition  was  rife  among  the  slaves  about  this  family 
burying-ground.  Strange  sights  had  been  seen  there  by 
some  of  tlie  older  slaves,  and  I  was  often  compelled  to 
hear  stories  of  shrouded  ghosts,  riding  on  great  black 
horses,  and  of  balls  of  fire  which  had  been  seen  to  fly 
there  at  midnight,  and  of  startling  and  dreadful  sounds 
that  had  been  repeatedly  heard.  Slaves  knew  enough  of 
the  Orthodox  theology  at  the  time  to  consign  all  bad 
slaveholders  to  hell,  and  they  often  fancied  such  persons 
wishing  themselves  back  again  to  wield  the  lash.  Tales 
of  sights  and  sounds  strange  and  terrible,  connected  with 
the  huge  black  tombs,  were  a  great  security  to  the  grounds 
about  them,  for  few  of  the  slaves  had  the  courage  to  ap- 
proach them  during  the  day  time.  It  was  a  dark,  gloomy, 
and  forbidding  place,  and  it  was  difficult  to  feel  that  the 
spirits  of  the  sleeping  dust  there  deposited  reigned  with 
the  blest  in  the  realms  of  eternal  peace. 

Here  was  transacted  the  business  of  twenty  or  thirty 
different  farms,  which,  with  the  slaves  upon  them,  num- 
bering, in  all,  not  less  than  a  thousand,  all  belonged  to 
Col.  Lloyd.  Each  farm  was  under  the  management  of  an 
overseer,  whose  word  was  law^ 


Mr.  Lloyd  at  this  time  was  very  rich.  His  slaves  alone, 
numbering  as  I  have  said  not  less  than  a  thousand,  were 
an  immense  fortune,  and  though  scarcely  a  month  passed 
without  the  sale  of  one  or  more  lots  to  the  Georgia 
traders,  there  was  no  apparent  diminution  in  the  number 
of  his  human  stock.  The  selling  of  any  to  the  State  of 
Georgia  was  a  sore  and  mournful  event  to  those  left  be- 
hind, as  well  as  to  the  victims  themselves. 

The  reader  has  already  been  informed  of  the  handi- 
crafts carried  on  here  by  the  slaves.  "  Uncle  "  Toney 
was  the  blacksmith,  "  Uncle  "  Harry  the  cartwright,  and 
"  Uncle  "  Abel  was  the  shoemaker,  and  these  had  assist- 
ants in  their  several  departments.  These  mechanics  were 
called  "  Uncles  "  by  all  the  younger  slaves,  not  because 
they  really  sustained  that  relationship  to  any,  but  accord- 
ing to  plantation  etiquette,  as  a  mark  of  respect,  due  from 
the  younger  to  the  older  slaves.  Strange  and  even  ridicu- 
lous as  it  may  seem,  among  a  people  so  uncultivated  and 
with  so  many  stern  trials  to  look  in  the  face,  there  is  not 
to  be  found  among  any  people  a  more  rigid  enforcement 
of  the  law  of  respect  to  elders  than  is  maintained  among 
them.  I  set  this  down  as  partly  constitutional  with  the 
colored  race  and  partly  conventional.  There  is  no  better 
material  in  the  world  for  making  a  gentleman  than  is  fur- 
nished in  the  African. 

Among  other  slave  notabilities,  I  found  here  one  called 
by  everybody,  white  and  colored,  "  Uncle  "  Isaac  Copper. 
It  was  seldom  that  a  slave,  however  venerable,  was  hon- 
ored with  a  surname  in  Maryland,  and  so  completely  has 
the  south  shaped  the  manners  of  the  north  in  this  respect 
that  their  right  to  such  honor  is  tardily  admitted  even 
now.  It  goes  sadly  against  the  grain  to  address  and  treat 
a  negro  as  one  would  address  and  treat  a  white  man.  But 
once  in  a  while,  even  in  a  slave  state,  a  negro  had  a  sur- 
name fastened  to  him  by  common  consent.     This  was  the 


case  with  ''  Uncle  "  Isaac  Copper.  When  the  "  Uncle  " 
was  dropped,  he  was  called  Doctor  Copper.  He  was  both 
our  Doctor  of  Medicine  and  our  Doctor  of  Divinity. 
Where  he  took  his  degree  I  am  unable  to  say,  but  he  was 
too  well  established  in  his  profession  to  permit  question 
as  to  his  native  skill  or  attainments.  One  qualification 
he  certainly  had.  He  was  a  confirmed  cripple,  wholly 
unable  to  work,  and  was  worth  nothing  for  sale  in  the 
market.  Though  lame,  he  was  no  sluggard.  He  made 
his  crutches  do  him  good  service,  and  was  always  on  the 
alert  looking  up  the  sick,  and  such  as  were  supposed  to 
need  his  aid  and  counsel.  His  remedial  prescriptions 
embraced  four  articles.  For  diseases  of  the  body,  epsom 
salts  and  castor  oil ;  for  those  of  the  soul,  the  "  Lord's 
prayer,"  and  a  few  stout  hickory  switches. 

I  was  early  sent  to  Doctor  Isaac  Copper,  with  twenty 
or  thirty  other  children,  to  learn  the  Lord's  prayer.  The 
old  man  was  seated  on  a  huge  three-legged  oaken  stool, 
armed  with  several  large  hickory  switches,  and  from  the 
point  where  he  sat,  lame  as  he  was,  he  could  reach  every 
boy  in  the  room.  After  standing  a  while  to  learn  what 
was  expected  of  us,  he  commanded  us  to  kneel  dow^n. 
This  done,  he  told  us  to  say  everything  he  said.  "  Our 
Father" — this  we  repeated  after  him  with  promptness 
and  uniformity — "  who  art  in  Heaven,"  was  less  promptly 
and  uniformly  repeated,  and  the  old  gentleman  paused  in 
the  prayer  to  give  us  a  short  lecture,  and  to  use  his 
switches  on  our  backs. 

Everybody  in  the  South  seemed  to  want  the  privilege  of 
whipping  somebody  else.  Uncle  Isaac,  though  a  good  old 
man,  shared  the  common  passion  of  his  time  and  country. 
I  cannot  say  I  was  much  edified  by  attendance  upon  his 
ministry.  There  was  even  at  that  time  something  a  little 
inconsistent  and  laughable,  in  my  mind,  in  the  blending 
of  prayer  with  punishment. 

48  MY   MASTER,    CAPT.    ANTHONY. 

I  was  not  long  in  my  new  home  before  I  found  that  the 
dread  1  had  conceived  of  Captain  Anthony  was  in  a  meas- 
ure groundless.  Instead  of  leaping  out  from  some  hiding- 
place  and  destroying  me,  he  hardly  seemed  to  notice  my 
presence.  He  probably  thought  as  little  of  my  arrival 
there  as  of  an  additional  pig  to  his  stock.  He  was  the 
chief  agent  of  his  employer.  The  overseers  of  all  the 
farms  composing  the  Lloyd  estate  were  in  some  sort  under 
him.  The  Colonel  himself  seldom  addressed  an  overseer, 
or  allowed  himself  to  be  addressed  by  one.  To  Captain 
Anthony,  therefore,  was  committed  the  headship  of  all 
the  farms.  He  carried  the  keys  of  all  the  store-houses, 
weighed  and  measured  the  allowances  of  each  slave,  at 
the  end  of  each  month ;  superintended  the  storing  of  all 
goods  brought  to  the  store-house  ;  dealt  out  the  raw  ma- 
terial to  the  different  handicraftsmen ;  shipped  the  grain, 
tobacco,  and  all  other  saleable  produce  of  the  numerous 
farms  to  Baltimore,  and  had  a  general  oversight  of  all  the 
workshops  of  the  place.  In  addition  to  all  this  he  was 
frequently  called  abroad  to  Easton  and  elsewhere  in 
the  discharge  of  his  numerous  duties  as  chief  agent  of  the 

The  family  of  Captain  Anthony  consisted  of  two  sons 
— Andrew  and  Richard,  his  daughter  Lucretia  and  her 
newly-married  husband.  Captain  Thomas  Auld.  In  the 
kitchen  were  Aunt  Katy,  Aunt  Esther,  and  ten  or  a  dozen 
children,  most  of  them  older  than  myself.  Captain  An- 
thony was  not  considered  a  rich  slave-holder,  though  he 
was  pretty  well  off  in  the  world.  He  owned  about  thirty 
slaves  and  three  farms  in  the  Tuckahoe  district.  The 
more  valuable  part  of  his  property  was  in  slaves,  of 
whom  he  sold  one  every  year,  which  brought  him  in 
seven  or  eight  hundred  dollars,  besides  his  yearly  salary 
and  other  revenue  from  his  lands. 


I  have  been  often  asked,  during  tlie  earlier  part  of  my 
free  life  at  the  North,  how  I  happened  to  have  so  little  of 
the  slave  accent  in  my  speech.  The  mystery  is  in  some 
measure  explained  by  my  association  with  Daniel  Lloyd, 
the  youngest  son  of  Col.  Edward  Lloyd.  The  law  of 
compensation  holds  here  as  well  as  elsewhere.  While 
this  lad  could  not  associate  with  ignorance  without  shar- 
ing its  shade,  he  could  not  give  his  black  playmates  his 
company  without  giving  them  his  superior  intelligence  as 
well.  Without  knowing  this,  or  caring  about  it  at  the 
time,  I,  for  some  cause  or  other,  was  attracted  to  him, 
and  was  much  his  companion. 

I  had  little  to  do  with  the  older  brothers  of  Daniel — 
Edward  and  Murray.  They  were  grown  up  and  were  fine- 
looking  men.  Edward  was  especially  esteemed  by  the 
slave  children,  and  by  me  among  the  rest — not  that  he 
ever  said  anything  to  us  or  for  us  which  could  be  called 
particularly  kind.  It  was  enough  for  us  that  he  never 
looked  or  acted  scornfully  toward  us.  The  idea  of  rank 
and  station  was  rigidly  maintained  on  this  estate.  The 
family  of  Captain  Anthony  never  visited  the  great  house, 
and  the  Lloyds  never  came  to  our  house.  Equal  non- 
intercourse  was  observed  between  Captain  Anthony's  fam- 
ily and  the  family  of  Mr.  Seveir,  the  overseer. 

Such,  kind  readers,  was  the  community  and  such  the 
place  in  which  my  earliest  and  most  lasting  impressions 
of  the  workings  of  slavery  were  received,  of  which 
inipressions  you  will  learn  more  in  the  after  coming  chap- 
ters of  this  book. 



Increasing  acquaintance  with  old  Master — Evils  of  unresisted  passion 
— Apparent  tenderness — A  man  of  trouble — Custom  of  muttering  to 
himself — Brutal  outrage — A  drunken  overseer — Slaveholder's  impa- 
tience— Wisdom  of  appeal— A  base  and  selfish  attempt  to  break  up 
a  courtship. 

ALTHOUGH  my  old  master,  Captain  Anthony,  gave 
me,  at  the  first  of  my  coming  to  him  from  my 
grandmother's,  very  little  attention,  and  although  that 
little  was  of  a  remarkably  mild  and  gentle  description,  a 
few  months  only  were  sufficient  to  convince  me  that 
mildness  and  gentleness  were  not  the  prevailing  or  gov- 
erning traits  of  his  character.  These  excellent  qualities 
were  displayed  only  occasionally.  He  could,  when  it 
suited  him,  appear  to  be  literally  insensible  to  the  claims 
of  humanity.  He  could  not  only  be  deaf  to  the  appeals 
of  the  helpless  against  the  aggressor,  but  he  could  him- 
self commit  outrages  deep,  dark,  and  nameless.  Yet  he 
was  not  by  nature  worse  than  other  men.  Had  he  been 
brought  up  in  a  free  state,  surrounded  by  the  full 
restraints  of  civilized  society — restraints  which  are  neces- 
sary to  the  freedom  of  all  its  members,  alike  and  equally, 
Capt.  Anthony  might  have  been  as  humane  a  man  as  are 
members  of  such  society  generally.  A  man's  character 
always  takes  its  hue,  more  or  less,  from  the  form  and 
color  of  things  about  him.  The  slaveholder,  as  well  as 
the  slave,  was  the  victim  of  the  slave  system.  Under 
the  whole  heavens  tliere  could  be  no  relation  more  unfa- 
vorable to  the  development  of  honorable  character  than 


A  slaveholder's  character.  51 

that  sustained  by  the  slaveholder  .to  the  slave.  Reason 
is  imprisoned  here,  and  passions  run  wild.  Could  the 
reader  have  seen  Captain  Anthony  gently  leading  me  by 
the  hand,  as  he  sometimes  did,  patting  me  on  the  head, 
speaking  to  me  in  soft,  caressing  tones,  and  calling  me 
his  little  Indian  boy,  he  would  have  deemed  him  a  kind- 
hearted  old  man,  and  really  almost  fatherly  to  the  slave 
boy.  But  the  pleasant  moods  of  a  slaveholder  are  tran- 
sient and  fitful.  They  neither  come  often  nor  remain 
long.  The  temper  of  the  old  man  was  subject  to  special 
trials ;  but  since  these  trials  were  never  borne  patiently, 
they  added  little  to  his  natural  stock  of  patience.  Aside 
from  his  troublos  with  his  slaves  and  those  of  Mr.  Lloyd, 
he  made  the  impression  upon  me  of  being  an  unhappy 
man.  Even  to  my  child's  eye  he  wore  a  troubled  and  at 
times  a  haggard  aspect.  His  strange  movements  excited 
my  curiosity  and  awakened  my  compassion.  He  seldom 
walked  alone  without  muttering  to  himself,  and  he  occa- 
sionally stormed  about  as  if  defying  an  army  of  invisible 
foes.  Most  of  his  leisure  was  spent  in  walking  around, 
cursing  and  gesticulating  as  if  possessed  by  a  demon. 
He  was  evidently  a  wretched  man,  at  war  with  his  own 
soul  and  all  the  world  around  him.  To  be  overheard  by 
the  children  disturbed  him  very  little.  He  made  no  more 
of  our  presence  than  that  of  the  ducks  and  geese  he  met 
on  the  green.  But  when  his  gestures  were  most  violent, 
ending  with  a  threatening  shake  of  the  head  and  a  sharp 
snap  of  his  middle  finger  and  thumb,  I  deemed  it  wise  to 
keep  at  a  safe  distance  from  him. 

One  of  the  first  circumstances  that  opened  my  eyes  to 
the  cruelties  and  wickedness  of  slavery  and  its  hardening 
influences  upon  my  old  master,  was  his  refusal  to  inter- 
pose his  authority  to  protect  and  shield  a  young  woman, 
a  cousin  of  mine,  who  had  been  most  cruelly  abused  and 
beaten  by  his  overseer  in  Tuckahoe.  This  overseer,  a 


Mr.  Plummcr,  was,  like  most  of  his  class,  little  less  than 
a  human  l^rute ;  and,  in  addition  to  his  general  profligacy 
and  repulsive  coarseness,  he  was  a  miserable  drunkard,  a 
man  not  fit  to  have  the  management  of  a  drove  of  mules. 
In  one  of  his  moments  of  drunken  madness  he  committed 
the  outrage  which  brought  the  young  woman  in  question 
down  to  my  old  master's  for  protection.  The  poor  girl, 
on  her  arrival  at  our  house,  presented  a  most  pitiable 
appearance.  She  had  left  in  haste  and  without  prepara- 
tion, and  probably  without  the  knowledge  of  Mr.  Plum- 
mer.  She  had  traveled  twelve  miles,  barefooted,  bare- 
necked, and  bare-headed.  Her  neck  and  shoulders  were 
covered  with  scars,  newly  made ;  and,  not  content  with 
marring  her  neck  and  shoulders  with  the  cowhide,  the 
cowardly  wretch  had  dealt  her  a  blow  on  the  head  with  a 
hickory  club,  which  cut  a  horrible  gash,  and  left  her  face 
literally  covered  with  blood.  In  this  condition  the  poor 
young  woman  came  down  to  implore  protection  at  the 
hands  of  my  old  master.  I  expected  to  see  him  boil  over 
with  rage  at  the  revolting  deed,  and  to  hear  him  fill 
the  air  with  curses  upon  the  brutal  Plummcr;  but  I 
was  disappointed.  He  sternly  told  her  in  an  angry  tone, 
"  She  deserved  every  bit  of  it,  and  if  she  did  not  go 
home  instantly  he  would  himself  take  the  remaining 
skin  from  her  neck  and  back."  Thus  the  poor  girl  was 
compelled  to  return  without  redress,  and  perhaps  to 
receive  an  additional  flogging  for  daring  to  appeal  to 
authority  higher  tlian  that  of  the  overseer. 

I  did  not  at  that  time  understand  the  philosophy  of 
this  treatment  of  my  cousin.  I  think  I  now  understand 
J  it.  This  treatment  was  a  part  of  the  system,  rather  than 
a  part  of  the  man.  To  have  encouraged  appeals  of  this 
kind  would  have  occasioned  much  loss  of  time,  and  leave 
the  overseer  powerless  to  enforce  obedience.  Neverthe- 
less, when  a  slave  had  nerve  enough  to  go  straight  to  his 


master  with  a  well-founded  complaint  against  an  over- 
seer, though  he  might  be  repelled,  and  have  even  that  of 
which  he  complained  at  the  time  repeated,  and  though  he 
might  be  beaten  by  his  master,  as  well  as  by  the  over- 
seer, for  his  temerity,  in  the  end,  the  policy  of  complain- 
ing was  generally  vindicated  by  the  relaxed  rigor  of  the 
overseer's  treatment.  The  latter  became  more  careful 
and  less  disposed  to  use  the  lash  upon  such  slaves  there- 

The  overseer  very  naturally  disliked  to  have  the  ear  of 
the  master  disturbed  by  complaints;  and,  either  for  this 
reason  or  because  of  advice  privately  given  him  by  his 
employer,  he  generally  modified  the  rigor  of  his  rule  after 
complaints  of  this  kind  had  been  made  against  him. 
For  some  cause  or  other,  the  slaves,  no  matter  how  often 
they  were  repulsed  by  their  masters,  were  ever  disposed 
-^to  regard  them  with  less  abhorrence  than  the  overseer. 
And  yet  these  masters  would  often  go  beyond  their  over- 
seers in  w^anton  cruelty.  They  wielded  the  lash  without 
any  sense  of  responsibility.  They  could  cripple  or  kill 
without  fear  of  consequences.  I  have  seen  my  old  mas- 
ter in  a  tempest  of  wrath,  full  of  pride,  hatred,  jealousy, 
and  revenge,  where  he  seemed  a  very  fiend. 

The  circumstances  w^hicli  I  am  about  to  narrate,  and 
which  gave  rise  to  this  fearful  tempest  of  passion,  were 
not  singular,  but  very  common  in  our  slave-holding  com- 

The  reader  will  have  noticed  that  among  the  names  of 
slaves  Esther  is  mentioned.  This  was  a  young  woman 
who  possessed  that  which  was  ever  a  curse  to  the  slave 
girl — namely,  personal  beauty.  She  was  tall,  light-col- 
ored, well  formed,  and  made  a  fine  appearance.  Esther 
was  courted  by  "  Ned  Roberts,"  the  son  of  a  favorite  slave 
of  Col.  Lloyd,  who  was  as  fine-looking  a  young  man  as 
Esther  was  a  woman.      Some  slave-holders  would  have 


been  glad  to  have  promoted  the  marriage  of  two  such  per- 
sons, but  for  some  reason  Captain  Anthony  disapproved 
of  their  courtship.  He  strictly  ordered  her  to  quit  the 
company  of  young  Roberts,  telling  her  that  he  would  pun- 
ish her  severely  if  he  ever  found  her  again  in  his  com- 
pany. But  it  was  impossible  to  keep  this  couple  apart. 
Meet  they  would,  and  meet  they  did.  Had  Mr.  Anthony 
himself  been  a  man  of  honor,  his  motives  in  this  matter 
might  have  appeared  more  favorably.  As  it  was,  they 
appeared  as  abhorrent  as  they  were  contemptible.  It  was 
one  of  the  damning  characteristics  of  slavery  that  it  rob- 
bed its  victims  of  every  earthly  incentive  to  a  holy  life. 
The  fear  of  God  and  the  hope  of  heaven  were  sufficient  to 
sustain  many  slave  women  amidst  the  snares  and  dangers 
of  their  strange  lot ;  but  they  were  ever  at  the  mercy  of 
the  power,  passion,  and  caprice  of  their  owners.  Slavery 
provided  no  means  for  the  honorable  perpetuation  of  the 
race.  Yet,  despite  of  this  destitution,  there  were  many 
men  and  women  among  the  slaves  who  were  true  and 
faithful  to  each  other  through  life. 

But  to  the  case  in  hand.  Abhorred  and  circumvented 
as  he  was.  Captain  Anthony,  having  the  power,  was  de- 
termined on  revenge.  I  happened  to  see  its  shocking  exe- 
cution, and  shall  never  ferget  the  scene.  It  was  early  in 
the  morning,  when  all  was  still,  and  before  any  of  the 
family  in  the  house  or  kitchen  had  risen.  I  was,  in  fact, 
awakened  by  the  heart-rending  shrieks  and  piteous  cries 
of  poor  Esther.  My  sleeping-place  was  on  the  dirt  floor 
of  a  little  rough  closet  which  opened  into  the  kitchen,  and 
through  the  cracks  in  its  unplaned  boards  I  could  dis- 
tinctly see  and  hear  what  was  going  on,  without  being 
seen.  Esther's  wrists  were  firmly  tied,  and  the  twisted 
rope  was  fastened  to  a  strong  iron  staple  in  a  heavy 
wooden  beam  above,  near  the  fire-place.  Here  she  stood 
on  a  bench,  her  arms  tightly  drawn  above  her  head.    Her 


back  and  shoulders  were  perfectly  bare.  Behind  her 
stood  old  master,  cowhide  in  hand,  pursuing  his  barbar- 
ous work  with  all  manner  of  harsh,  coarse,  and  tantaliz- 
ing epithets.  He  was  cruelly  deliberate,  and  protracted 
the  torture  as  one  who  was  delighted  with  the  agony  of 
his  victim.  Again  and  again  he  drew  the  hateful  scourge 
through  his  hand,  adjusting  it  with  a  view  of  dealing  the 
most  pain-giving  blow  his  strength  and  skill  could  inflict. 
Poor  Esther  had  never  before  been  severely  whipped. 
Her  shoulders  were  plump  and  tender.  Each  blow,  vig- 
orously laid  on,  brought  screams  from  her  as  well  as 
blood.  "  Have  mercy  !  Oh,  mercy ! "  she  cried.  "  I 
won't  do  so  no  more."  But  her  piercing  cries  seemed  only 
to  increase  his  fury.  The  whole  scene,  with  all  its  attend- 
ants, was  revolting  and  shocking  to  the  last  degree,  and 
when  the  motives  for  the  brutal  castigation  are  known, 
language  has  no  power  to  convey  a  just  sense  of  its  dread- 
ful criminality.  After  laying  on  I  dare  not  say  how 
many  stripes,  old  master  untied  his  suffering  victim. 
When  let  down  she  could  scarcely  stand.  From  my  heart 
I  pitied  her,  and  child  as  I  was,  and  new  to  such  scenes, 
the  shock  was  tremendous.  I  was  terrified,  hushed, 
stunned,  and  bewildered.  The  scene  here  described  was 
often  repeated,  for  Edward  and  Esther  continued  to 
meet,  notwithstanding  all  efforts  to  prevent  their  meet- 



The  author's  early  reflections  on  Slavery — Aunt  Jennie  and  Uncle 
Noah — Presentment  of  one  day  becoming  a  freeman — Conflict  be- 
tween an  overseer  and  a  slave  woman — Advantage  of  resistance — 
Death  of  an  overseer — Col.  Lloyd's  plantation  home — Monthly  dis- 
tribution of  food — Singing  of  Slaves — An  explanation — The  slaves' 
food  and  clothing — Naked  children — Life  in  the  quarter — Sleeping 
places — not  beds — Deprivation  of  sleep — Care  of  nursing  babies — 
Ash  cake — Contrast. 

THE  incidents  related  in  the  foregoing  chapter  led  me 
thus  early  to  inquire  into  the  origin  and  nature  of 
slavery.  Why  am  I  a  slave  ?  Why  are  some  people  slaves 
and  others  masters  ?  These  were  perplexing  questions 
and  very  troublesome  to  my  childhood.  I  was  told  by 
some  one  very  early  that  "  G-od  up  in  the  sky  "  had  made 
all  things,  and  had  made  black  people  to  be  slaves  and 
white  people  to  be  masters.  I  was  told  too  that  God  was 
■-^good,  and  that  He  knew  what  was  best  for  everybody. 
This  was,  however,  less  satisfactory  than  the  first  state- 
ment. It  came  point  blank  against  all  my  notions  of 
goodness.  The  case  of  Aunt  Esther  was  in  my  mind. 
Besides,  I  could  not  tell  how  anybody  could  know  that 
God  made  black  people  to  be  slaves.  Then  I  found,  too, 
that  there  were  puzzling  exceptions  to  this  theory  of  sla- 
very, in  the  fact  that  all  black  people  were  not  slaves,  and 
all  wliite  people  were  not  masters. 

An  incident  occurred  about  this  time  that  made  a  deep 
impression  on  my.  mind.  One  of  the  men  slaves  of  Cap- 
tain Anthony  and  my  Aunt  Jennie  ran  away.  A  great 
noise  was  made  about  it.      Old  master  was  furious.      He 



said  he  would  follow  them  and  catch  them  and  bring  them 
back,  but  he  never  did,  and  somebody  told  me  that  Uncle 
Noah  and  Aunt  Jennie  had  gone  to  the  free  states  and 
were  free.  Besides  this  occurrence,  which  brought  much 
light  to  my  mind  on  the  subject,  there  were  several  slaves 
on  Mr.  Lloyd's  place  who  remembered  being  brought  from 
Africa.,  There  were  others  that  told  me  that  their  fathers 
and  mothers  were  stolen  from  Africa. 

This  to  me  was  important  knowledge,  but  not  such  as 
to  make  me  feel  very  easy  in  my  slave  condition.  The 
success  of  Aunt  Jennie  and  Uncle  Noah  in  getting  away 
from  slavery  was,  I  think,  the  first  fact  that  made  me 
seriously  think  of  escape  for  myself.  I  could  not  have 
been  more  than  seven  or  eight  years  old  at  the  time  of 
this  occurrence,  but  young  as  I  was  I  was  already  a  fugi- 
-'tive  from  slavery  in  spirit  and  purpose. 

Up  to  the  time  of  the  brutal  treatment  of  my  Aunt 
Esther,  already  narrated,  and  the  shocking  plight  in  which 
I  had  seen  my  cousin  from  Tuckahoe,  my  attention  had 
not  been  especially  directed  to  the  grosser  and  more  re- 
volting features  of  slavery.  I  had,  of  course,  heard  of 
whippings  and  savage  mutilations  of  slaves  by  brutal  over- 
seers, but  happily  for  me  I  had  always  been  out  of  the  way 
of  such  occurrences.  My  play  time  was  spent  outside  of 
the  corn  and  tobacco  fields,  where  the  overseers  and  slaves 
were  brought  together  and  in  conflict.  But  after  the  case 
of  my  Aunt  Esther  I  saw  others  of  the  same  disgusting 
and  shocking  nature.  The  one  of  these  which  agitated 
and  distressed  me  most  was  the  whipping  of  a  woman, 
not  belonging  to  my  old  master,  but  to  Col.  Lloyd.  The 
charge  against  her  was  very  common  and  very  indefinite, 
namely,  "  impudence.^''  This  crime  could  be  committed 
by  a  slave  in  a  hundred  different  ways,  and  depended 
much  upon  the  temper  and  caprice  of  the  overseer  as  to 
whether  it  was  committed  at  all.      He  could  create  the 


offense  whenever  it  pleased  liini.  A  look,  a  word,  a  ges- 
ture, accidental  or  intentional,  never  failed  to  be  taken  as 
impudence  when  he  was  in  the  riglit  mood  for  such  an 
offense.  In  this  case  there  were  all  the  necessary  condi- 
tions for  the  commission  of  the  crime  charged.  The 
offender  was  nearly  white,  to  begin  with  ;  she  was  the 
wife  of  a  favorite  hand  on  board  of  Mr.  Lloyd's  sloop,  and 
was  besides  the  mother  of  five  sprightly  cliildren.  Vig- 
orous and  spirited  woman  that  she  was,  a  wife  and  a 
mother,  with  a  predominating  share  of  the  blood  of  the 
master  running  in  her  veins,  Nellie  (for  that  was  her 
name)  had  all  the  qualities  essential  to  impudence  to  a 
slave  overseer.  My  attention  was  called  to  the  scene  of 
the  castigation  by  the  loud  screams  and  curses  that  pro- 
ceeded from  the  direction  of  it.  When  I  came  near  the 
parties  engaged  in  the  struggle  the  overseer  had  hold  of 
Nellie,  endeavoring  with  his  whole  strength  to  drag  her 
to  a  tree  against  her  resistance.  Both  his  and  her  faces 
were  bleeding,  for  the  woman  was  doing  her  best.  Three 
of  her  children  were  present,  and  though  quite  small, 
(from  seven  to  ten  years  old,  I  should  think),  they  gal- 
lantly took  the  side  of  their  mother  against  the  overseer, 
and  pelted  him  well  with  stones  and  epithets.  Amid  the 
screams  of  the  children,  "  Let  my  mammy  go  !  Let  my 
mammy  go!  ^^  the  hoarse  voice  of  the  maddened  overseer 
was  heard  in  terrible  oaths  that  he  would  teach  her  how 
to  give  a  white  man  "  impudence.^^  The  blood  on  his  face 
and  on  hers  attested  her  skill  in  the  use  of  her  nails,  and 
his  dogged  determination  to  conquer.  His  purpose  was 
to  tie  her  up  to  a  tree  and  give  her,  in  slave-holding  par- 
lance, a  "  genteel  flogging,"  and  he  evidently  had  not  ex- 
pected the  stern  and  protracted  resistance  he  was  meet- 
ing, or  the  strength  and  skill  needed  to  its  execution. 
There  were  times  when  she  seemed  likely  to  get  the  bet- 
ter of  the  brute,  but  he  finally  overpowered  her  and  sue- 


cceded  in  getting  her  arms  firmly  tied  to  the  tree  towards 
which  he  had  been  dragging  her.  The  victim  was  now  at 
the  mercy  of  his  merciless  lash.  What  followed  I  need 
not  here  describe.  The  cries  of  the  now  helpless  woman, 
while  undergoing  the  terrible  infliction,  were  mingled 
with  the  hoarse  curses  of  the  overseer  and  the  wild  cries 
of  her  distracted  children.  When  the  poor  woman  was 
untied  her  back  was  covered  with  blood.  She  was  whip- 
ped, terribly  whipped,  but  she  was  not  subdued,  and  con- 
tinued to  denounce  the  overseer,  and  pour  upon  him 
every  vile  epithet  she  could  think  of.  Such  floggings  are 
seldom  repeated  by  overseers  on  the  same  persons.  They 
prefer  to  whip  those  who  were  the  most  easily  whipped. 
The  doctrine  that  submission  to  violence  is  the  best  cure 
for  violence  did  not  hold  good  as  between  slaves  and  over- 
seers. He  was  whipped  oftener  who  was  whipped  easiest. 
That  slave  who  had  the  courage  to  stand  up  for  himself 
against  the  overseer,  although  he  might  have  many  hard 
stripes  at  first,  became  while  legally  a  slave  virtually  a 
freeman.  "  You  can  shoot  me,"  said  a  slave  to  Rigby 
Hopkins,  "  but  you  can't  whip  me,"  and  the  result  was  he 
was  neither  whipped  nor  shot.  I  do  not  know  that  Mr. 
Sevier  ever  attempted  to  whip  Nellie  again.  He  probably 
never  did,  for  not  long  after  he  was  taken  sick  and  died. 
It  was  commonly  said  that  his  death-bed  was  a  wretched 
one,  and  that,  the  ruling  passion  being  strong  in  death, 
he  died  flourishing  the  slave  whip  and  with  horrid  oaths 
upon  his  lips.  This  death-bed  scene  may  only  be  the  im- 
agining of  the  slaves.  One  thing  is  certain,  that  when  he 
was  in  health  his  profanity  was  enough  to  chill  the  blood 
of  an  ordinary  man.  Nature,  or  habit,  had  given  to  his 
face  an  expression  of  uncommon  savageness.  Tobacco 
and  rage  had  ground  his  teeth  short,  and  nearly  every 
sentence  that  he  uttered  was  commenced  or  completed 
with  an  oath.      Hated  for  his  cruelty,  despised  for  his 


cowardice,  he  went  to  his  grave  lamented  by  nobody  on 
the  place  outside  of  his  own  house,  if,  indeed,  he  was  even 
lamented  there. 

In  Mr.  James  Hopkins,  the  succeeding  overseer,  we  had 
a  different  and  a  better  man,  as  good  perhaps  as  any  man 
could  be  in  the  position  of  a  slave  overseer.  Though  he 
sometimes  wielded  the  lash,  it  was  evident  that  he  took 
no  pleasure  in  it  and  did  it  with  much  reluctance.  He 
stayed  but  a  short  time  here,  and  his  removal  from  the 
position  was  much  regretted  by  the  slaves  generally.  Of 
the  successor  of  Mr.  Hopkins  I  shall  have  something  to 
say  at  another  time  and  in  another  place. 

For  the  present  we  will  attend  to  a  further  description 
of  the  business-like  aspect  of  Col.  Lloyd's  "  Great  House^^ 
farm.  There  was  always  much  bustle  and  noise  here  on 
the  two  days  at  the  end  of  each  month,  for  then  the  slaves 
belonging  to  the  different  branches  of  this  great  estate 
assembled  here  by  their  representatives  to  obtain  their 
monthly  allowances  of  corn-meal  and  pork.  These  were 
gala  days  for  the  slaves  of  the  outlying  farms,  and  there 
was  much  rivalry  among  them  as  to  who  should  be  elected 
to  go  up  to  the  Great  House  farm  for  the  "  Allowayices^^ 
and  indeed  to  attend  to  any  other  business  at  this  great 
place,  to  them  the  capitol  of  a  little  nation.  Its  beauty 
and  grandeur,  its  immense  wealth,  its  numerous  popu- 
lation, and  the  fact  that  uncles  Harry,  Peter,  and  Jake, 
the  sailors  on  board  the  sloop,  usually  kept  on  sale  trink- 
ets which  they  bought  in  Baltimore  to  sell  to  their  less 
fortunate  fellow-servants,  made  a  visit  to  the  Great  House 
farm  a  high  privilege,  and  eagerly  sought.  It  was  valued, 
too,  as  a  mark  of  distinction  and  confidence;  but  proba- 
bly the  chief  motive  among  the  competitors  for  the  office 
was  the  opportunity  it  afforded  to  shake  off  the  monotony 
of  the  field  and  to  get  beyond  the  overseer's  eye  and  lash. 
Once  on  the  road  with  an  ox-team,  and  seated  on  the 


tongue  of  the  cart,  with  no  overseer  to  look  after  him,  he 
felt  comparatively  free. 

Slaves  were  expected  to  sing  as  well  as  to  work.  A 
silent  slave  was  not  liked,  either  by  masters  or  overseers. 
''Make  a  noise  there  !  Make  a  noise  there  1 "  and  "  bear  a 
hand,"  were  words  usually  addressed  to  slaves  when  they 
were  silent.  This,  and  the  natural  disposition  of  the  ne- 
gro to  make  a  noise  in  the  world,  may  account  for  the 
almost  constant  singing  among  them  when  at  their  work. 
There  was  generally  more  or  less  singing  among  the 
teamsters  at  all  times.  It  was  a  means  of  telling  the 
overseer,  in  the  distance,  where  they  were  and  what  they 
were  about.  But  on  the  allowance  days  those  commis- 
sioned to  the  Great  House  farm  were  peculiarly  vocal. 
While  on  the  way  they  would  make  the  grand  old  woods 
for  miles  around  reverberate  with  their  wild  and  plain- 
tive notes.  They  were  indeed  both  merry  and  sad. 
Child  as  I  was,  these  wild  songs  greatly  depressed  my 
spirits.  Nowhere  outside  of  dear  old  Ireland,  in  the 
days  of  want  and  famine,  have  I  heard  sounds  so  mourn- 

In  all  these  slave  songs  there  was  ever  some  expression 
of  praise  of  the  Great  House  farm — something  that  would 
please  the  pride  of  the  Lloyds. 

I  am  going  away  to  the  Great  House  farm, 

O,  yea!  O,  yea!  O,  yea! 
My  old  master  is  a  good  old  master, 

O,  yea!  O,  yea!  O,  yea! 

These  words  would  be  sung  over  and  over  again,  with 
others,  improvised  as  they  went  along — ^jargon,  perhaps, 
to  the  reader,  but  full  of  meaning  to  the  singers.  I  have 
sometimes  thought  that  the  mere  hearing  of  these  songs 
would  have  done  more  to  impress  the  good  people  of  the 
north  with  the  soul-crushing  character  of  slavery  than 
whole  volumes  exposing  the  physical  cruelties  of   the 


slave  system ;  for  the  heart  lias  no  language  like  song. 
Many  years  ago,  when  recollecting  my  experience  in  this 
respect,  I  wrote  of  these  slave  songs  in  the  following- 
strain  : 

"  I  did  not,  when  a  slave,  fully  understand  the  deep 
meaning  of  those  rude  and  apparently  incoherent  songs. 
I  was,  myself,  within  the  circle,  so  that  I  could  then  nei- 
ther hear  nor  see  as  those  without  might  see  and  hear. 
They  breathed  the  prayer  aud  complaint  of  souls  over- 
flowing with  the  bitterest  anguish.  They  depressed  my 
spirits  and  filled  my  heart  with  ineffable  sadness." 

The  remark  in  the  olden  time  was  not  unfrequently 
made,  that  slaves  were  the  most  contented  and  happy 
laborers  in  the  world,  and  their  dancing  and  singing  were 
referred  to  in  proof  of  this  alleged  fact ;  but  it  was  a 
great  mistake  to  suppose  them  happy  because  they  some- 
times made  those  joyful  noises.  The  songs  of  the  slaves 
represented  their  sorrows,  rather  than  their  joys.  Like 
tears,  they  were  a  relief  to  aching  hearts.  It  is  not  in- 
consistent with  the  constitution  of  the  human  mind  that 
avails  itself  of  one  and  the  same  method  for  expressing 
opposite  emotions.  Sorrow  and  desolation  have  their 
songs,  as  well  as  joy  and  peace. 

It  was  the  boast  of  slaveholders  that  their  slaves 
enjoyed  more  of  the  physical  comforts  of  life  than  the 
peasantry  of  any  country  in  the  world.  My  experience 
contradicts  this.  The  men  and  the  women  slaves  on  Col. 
Lloyd's  farm  received  as  their  monthly  allowance  of  food, 
eight  pounds  of  pickled  pork,  or  its  equivalent  in  fish. 
The  pork  was  often  tainted,  and  the  fish  were  of  the  poor- 
est quality.  With  their  pork  or  fish,  they  had  given  them 
one  bushel  of  Indian  meal,  unbolted,  of  which  quite  fifteen 
per  cent,  was  more  fit  for  pigs  than  for  men.  With  this 
one  pint  of  salt  was  given,  and  this  was  the  entire 
monthly  allowance  of  a  full-grown  slave,  working  con- 


stantly  in  the  open  field  from  morning  till  night  every  day 
in  the  month  except  Sunday.  There  is  no  kind  of  work 
which  really  requires  a  better  supply  of  food  to  prevent 
physical  exhaustion  than  the  field  work  of  a  slave.  The 
yearly  allowance  of  clothing  was  not  more  ample  than  the 
supply  of  food.  It  consisted  of  two  tow-linen  shirts,  one 
pair  of  trowsers  of  the  same  coarse  material,  for  summer, 
and  a  woolen  pair  of  trowsers  and  a  woolen  jacket  for  win- 
ter, with  one  pair  of  yarn  stockings  and  a  pair  of  shoes  of 
the  coarsest  description.  Children  under  ten  years  old 
had  neither  shoes,  stockings,  jackets,  nor  trowsers.  They 
had  two  coarse  tow-linen  shirts  per  year,  and  when  these 
were  worn  out  they  went  naked  till  the  next  allowance 
day — and  this  was  the  condition  of  the  little  girls  as  well 
as  the  boys.  As  to  beds,  they  had  none.  One  coarse 
blanket  was  given  them,  and  this  only  to  the  men  and 
women.  The  children  stuck  themselves  in  holes  and  cor- 
ners about  the  quarters,  often  in  the  corners  of  huge  chim- 
neys, with  their  feet  in  the  ashes  to  keep  them  warm. 
The  want  of  beds,  however,  was  not  considered  a  great 
privation  by  the  field  hands.  Time  to  sleep  was  of  far 
greater  importance.  For  when  the  day's  work  was  done 
most  of  these  had  their  washing,  mending,  and  cooking  to 
do,  and  having  few  or  no  facilities  for  doing  such  things, 
very  many  of  their  needed  sleeping  hours  were  consumed 
in  necessary  preparations  for  the  labors  of  the  coming 
day.  The  sleeping  apartments,  if  they  could  have  been 
properly  called  such,  had  little  regard  to  comfort  or  de- 
cency. Old  and  young,  male  and  female,  married  and 
single,  dropped  down  upon  the  common  clay  floor,  each 
covering  up  with  his  or  her  blanket,  their  only  protection 
from  cold  or  exposure.  The  night,  however,  was  short- 
ened at  both  ends.  The  slaves  worked  often  as  long  as 
they  could  see,  and  were  late  in  cooking  and  mending  for 
the  coming  day,  and  at  the  first  gray  streak  of  the  morn- 

G4  ASH    CAKE. 

ing  tlicy  were  summoned  to  the  field  by  the  overseer's 
horn.  They  were  whipped  for  over-sleeping  more  than 
for  any  other  fault.  Neither  age  nor  sex  found  any  favor. 
The  overseer  stood  at  the  quarter  door,  armed  with  stick 
and  whip,  ready  to  deal  heavy  blows  upon  any  who  might 
be  a  little  behind  time.  When  the  horn  was  blown  there 
was  a  rush  for  the  door,  for  the  hindermost  one  was  sure 
to  get  a  blow  from  the  overseer.  Young  mothers  who 
worked  in  the  field  were  allowed  an  hour  about  ten  o'clock 
in  the  morning  to  go  home  to  nurse  their  children.  This 
was  when  they  were  not  required  to  take  them  to  the  field 
with  them,  and  leave  them  upon  "  turning  row,"  or  in  the 
corner  of  the  fences. 

As  a  general  rule  the  slaves  did  not  come  to  their  quar- 
ters to  take  their  meals,  but  took  their  ash-cake  (called 
thus  because  baked  in  the  ashes)  and  piece  of  pork,  or 
their  salt  herrings,  where  they  were  at  work. 

But  let  us  now  leave  the  rough  usage  of  the  field,  where 
vulgar  coarseness  and  brutal  cruelty  flourished  as  rank  as 
weeds  in  the  tropics,  where  a  vile  wretch,  in  the  shape  of 
a  man,  rides,  walks,  and  struts  about,  with  whip  in  hand, 
dealing  heavy  blows  and  leaving  deep  gashes  on  the  flesh 
of  men  and  women,  and  turn  our  attention  to  the  less 
repulsive  slave  life  as  it  existed  in  the  home  of  my  child- 
hood. Some  idea  of  the  splendor  of  that  place  sixty  years 
ago  has  already  been  given.  The  contrast  between  the 
condition  of  the  slaves  and  that  of  their  masters  was  mar- 
velously  sharp  and  striking.  There  were  pride,  pomp, 
and  luxury  on  the  one  hand,  servility,  dejection,  and 
misery  on  the  other. 



Contrasts— Great  House  luxuries— Its  hospitality — Entertainments — 
Fault-finding — Shameful  humiliation  of  an  old  and  faithful  coach- 
man— William  Wilks — Curious  incident — Expressed  satisfaction 
not  always  genuine — Reasons  for  suppressing  the  truth. 

THE  close-fisted  stinginess  that  fed  the  poor  slave  on 
coarse  corn-meal  and  tainted  meat,  that  clothed  him 
in  crashy  tow-linen  and  hurried  him  on  to  toil  through  the 
field  in  all  weathers,  with  wind  and  rain  beating  through 
his  tattered  garments,  that  scarcely  gave  even  the  young 
slave-mother  time  to  nurse  her  infant  in  the  fence-corner, 
wholly  vanish_^ed  on  approaching  the  sacred  precincts  of 
the  "  Great  House  "  itself.  There  the  scriptural  phrase 
descriptive  of  the  wealthy  found  exact  illustration.  The 
highly-favored  inmates  of  this  mansion  were  literally 
arrayed  in  "purple  and  fine  linen,  and  fared  sumptuously 
every  day."  The  table  of  this  house  groaned  under  the 
blood-bought  luxuries  gathered  with  pains-taking  care  at 
home  and  abroad.  Fields,  forests,  rivers,  and  seas  were 
made  tributary.  Immense  wealth  and  its  lavish  expen- 
ditures filled  the  Great  House  with  all  that  could  please 
the  eye  or  tempt  the  taste.  Fish,  flesh,  and  fowl  were 
here  in  profusion.  Chickens  of  all  breeds ;  ducks  of  all 
kinds,  wild  and  tame,  the  common  and  the  huge  Musco- 
vite ;  Guinea  fowls,  turkeys,  geese,  and  pea-fowls  were 
fat,  and  fattening  for  the  destined  vortex.  Here  the 
graceful  swan,  the  mongrel,  the  black-necked  wild  goose, 
partridges,  quails,  pheasants,  and  pigeons,  choice  water- 
fowl, with  all  their  strange  varieties,  were  caught  in  this 



huge  net.  Beef,  veal,  mutton,  and  venison,  of  the  most 
select  kinds  and  quality,  rolled  in  bounteous  profusion  to 
this  grand  consumer.  The  teeming  riches  of  the  Chesa- 
peake Bay,  its  rock  perch,  drums,  crocus,  trout,  oysters, 
crabs,  and  terrapin  were  drawn  hither  to  adorn  the  glitter- 
ing table.  The  dairy,  too,  the  finest  then  on  the  eastern 
shore  of  Maryland,  supplied  by  cattle  of  the  best  English 
stock,  imported  for  the  express  purpose,  poured  its  rich 
donations  of  fragrant  cheese,  golden  butter,  and  delicious 
cream  to  heighten  the  attractions  of  the  gorgeous,  unend- 
ing round  of  feasting.  Nor  were  the  fruits  of  the  earth 
overlooked.  The  fertile  garden,  many  acres  in  size,  con- 
stituting a  separate  establishment  distinct  from  the  com- 
mon farm,  with  its  scientific  gardener  direct  from  Scot- 
land, a  Mr.  McDermott,  and  four  men  under  his  direction, 
was  not  behind,  either  in  the  abundance  or  in  the  delicacy 
of  its  contributions.  The  tender  asparagus,  the  crispy 
celery,  and  the  delicate  cauliflower,  egg  plants,  beets, 
lettuce,  parsnips,  peas,  and  French  beans,  early  and  late, 
radishes,  cantelopes,  melons  of  all  kinds ;  and  the  fruits 
of  all  climes  and  of  every  description,  from  the  hardy 
apples  of  the  north  to  the  lemon  and  orange  of  the  south, 
culminated  at  this  point.  Here  were  gathered  figs, 
raisins,  almonds,  and  grapes  from  Spain,  wines  and  bran- 
dies from  France,  teas  of  various  flavor  from  China,  and 
rich,  aromatic  coffee  from  Java,  all  conspiring  to  swell 
the  tide  of  high  life,  where  pride  and  indolence  lounged 
in  magnificence  and  satiety. 

Behind  the  tall-backed  and  elaborately  wrought  chairs 
stood  the  servants,  fifteen  in  number,  carefully  selected, 
not  only  with  a  view  to  their  capacity  and  adeptness,  but 
with  especial  regard  to  their  personal  appearance,  their 
graceful  agility,  and  pleasing  address.  Some  of  these 
servants,  armed  with  fans,  wafted  reviving  breezes  to  the 
over-heated  brows  of  the  alabaster  ladies,  whilst  others 


watched  with  eager  eye  and  fawn-like  step,  anticipating 
and  supplying  wants  before  they  were  sufficiently  formed  to 
be  announced  by  word  or  sign. 

These  servants  constituted  a  sort  of  black  aristocracy. 
They  resembled  the  field  hands  in  nothing  except  their 
color,  and  in  this  tliey  held  the  advantage  of  a  velvet-like 
glossiness,  rich  and  beautiful.  The  hair,  too,  showed  the 
same  advantage.  The  delicately-formed  colored  maid 
rustled  in  the  scarcely-worn  silk  of  her  young  mistress, 
while  the  servant  men  were  equally  well  attired  from  the 
overflowing  wardrobe  of  their  young  masters,  so  that  in 
dress,  as  well  as  in  form  and  feature,  in  manner  and 
speech,  in  tastes  and  habits,  the  distance  between  these 
favored  few  and  the  sorrow  and  hunger-smitten  multi- 
tudes of  the  quarter  and  the  field  was  immense. 

In  the  stables  and  carriage-houses  were  to  be  found  the 
same  evidences  of  pride  and  luxurious  extravagance. 
Here  were  three  splendid  coaches,  soft  within  and  lus- 
trous without.  Here,  too,  were  gigs,  phaetons,  barouches, 
sulkeys,  and  sleighs.  Here  were  saddles  and  harnesses, 
beautifully  wrought  and  richly  mounted.  Not  less  than 
thirty-five  horses  of  the  best  approved  blood,  both  for 
speed  and  beauty,  were  kept  only  for  pleasure.  The  care 
of  these  horses  constituted  the  entire  occupation  of  two 
men,  one  or  the  other  of  them  being  always  in  the  stable 
to  answer  any  call  which  might  be  made  from  the  Great 
House.  Over  the  way  from  the  stable  was  a  house  built 
expressly  for  the  hounds,  a  pack  of  twenty-five  or  thirty, 
the  fare  for  which  would  have  made  glad  the  hearts  of  a 
dozen  slaves.  Horses  and  hounds,  however,  were  not  the 
only  consumers  of  the  slave's  toil.  The  hospitality  prac- 
ticed at  the  Lloyd's  would  have  astonished  and  charmed 
many  a  health-seeking  divine  or  merchant  from  the  north. 
Viewed  from  his  table,  and  not  from  the  field,  Colonel 
Lloyd  was,  indeed,  a  model  of  generous  hospitality.     His 


house  was  literally  a  hotel  for  weeks,  during  the  summer 
months.  At  these  times,  especially,  the  air  was  freighted 
with  the  rich  fumes  of  baking,  boiling,  roasting,  and  broil- 
ing. It  was  something  to  me  that  I  could  share  these 
odors  with  the  winds,  even  if  the  meats  themselves  were 
under  a  more  stringent  monopoly.  In  master  Daniel  I  had 
a  friend  at  court,  who  would  sometimes  give  me  a  cake, 
and  who  kept  me  well  informed  as  to  their  guests  and 
their  entertainments.  Viewed  from  Col.  Lloyd's  table, 
who  could  have  said  that  his  slaves  were  not  well  clad  and 
well  cared  for  ?  Who  would  have  said  they  did  not  glory 
in  being  the  slaves  of  such  a  master  ?  Who  but  a  fanatic 
could  have  seen  any  cause  for  sympathy  for  either  master 
or  slave  ?  Alas,  this  immense  wealth,  this  gilded  splen- 
dor, this  profusion  of  luxury,  this  exemption  from  toil, 
this  life  of  ease,  this  sea  of  plenty  were  not  the  pearly 
gates  they  seemed  to  a  world  of  happiness  and  sweet  con- 
tent. The  poor  slave,  on  his  hard  pine  plank,  scantily 
covered  with  his  thin  blanket,  slept  more  soundly  than  the 
feverish  voluptuary  who  reclined  upon  his  downy  pillow. 
Food  to  the  indolent  is  poison,  not  sustenance.  Lurking 
beneath  the  rich  and  tempting  viands  were  invisible  spirits 
of  evil,  which  filled  the  self -deluded  gormandizer  with 
aches  and  pains,  passions  uncontrollable,  fierce  tempers, 
dyspepsia,  rheumatism,  lumbago,  and  gout,  and  of  these 
the  Lloyds  had  a  full  share. 

I  had  many  opportunities  of  witnessing  the  restless  dis- 
content and  capricious  irritation  of  the  Lloyds.  My  fond- 
ness for  horses  attracted  me  to  the  stables  much  of  the 
time.  The  two  men  in  charge  of  this  establishment  were 
old  and  young  Barney — ^father  and  son.  Old  Barney  was 
a  fine-looking,  portly  old  man  of  a  brownish  complexion, 
and  a  respectful  and  dignified  bearing.  He  was  much 
devoted  to  his  profession,  and  held  his  office  as  an  honor- 
able one.     He  was  a  farrier  as  well  as  an  ostler,  and 


could  bleed,  remove  lampers  from  their  mouths,  and  ad- 
minister medicine  to  horses.  No  one  on  the  farm  knew 
so  well  as  old  Barney  what  to  do  with  a  sick  horse ;  but 
his  office  was  not  an  enviable  one,  and  his  gifts  and 
acquirements  were  of  little  advantage  to  him.  In  nothing 
was  Col.  Lloyd  more  unreasonable  and  exacting  than  in 
respect  to  the  management  of  his  horses.  Any  supposed 
inattention  to  these  animals  was  sure  to  be  visited  with 
degrading  punishment.  His  horses  and  dogs  fared  better 
than  his  men.  Their  beds  were  far  softer  and  cleaner 
i;han  those  of  his  human  cattle.  No  excuse  could  shield 
old  Barney  if  the  Colonel  only  suspected  something  wrong 
about  his  horses,  and  consequently  he  was  often  punished 
when  faultless.  It  was  painful  to  hear  the  unreasonable 
and  fretful  scoldings  administered  by  Col.  Lloyd,  his  son 
Murray,  and  his  sons-in-law,  to  this  poor  man.  Three  of 
the  daughters  of  Col.  Lloyd  were  married,  and  they  with 
their  husbands  remained  at  the  great  house  a  portion  of 
the  year,  and  enjoyed  the  luxury  of  whipping  the  servants 
when  they  pleased.  A  horse  was  seldom  brought  out  of 
the  stable  to  which  no  objection  could  be  raised.  "There 
was  dust  in  his  hair  ;"  "there  was  a  twist  in  his  reins ;" 
"  his  foretop  was  not  combed ;"  "  his  mane  did  not  lie 
straight ;"  "  his  head  did  not  look  well ;"  "  his  fetlocks 
had  not  been  properly  trimmed."  Something  was  always 
wrong.  However  groundless  the  complaint,  Barney  must 
stand,  hat  in  hand,  lips  sealed,  never  answering  a  word  in 
explanation  or  excuse.  In  a  free  State,  a  master  thus 
complaining  without  cause,  might  be  told  by  his  ostler  : 
"  Sir,  I  am  sorry  I  cannot  please  you,  but  since  I  have 
done  the  best  I  can  and  fail  to  do  so,  your  remedy  is  to 
dismiss  me."  But  here  the  ostler  must  listen  and  trem- 
blingly abide  his  master's  behest.  One  of  the  most  heart- 
saddening  and  humiliating  scenes  I  ever  witnessed  was 
the  whipping  of  old  Barney  by  Col.  Lloyd.  These  two 
men  were  both  advanced  in  years ;  there  were  the  silver 


locks  of  the  master,  and  the  bald  and  toil-worn  brow  of 
the  slave — superior  and  inferior  here,  powerful  and  weak 
here,  but  equals  before  God.  "  Uncover  your  head,''  said 
the  imperious  master ;  he  was  obeyed.  "  Take  off  your 
jacket,  you  old  rascal !"  and  off  came  Barney's  jacket. 
"  Down  on  your  knees !"  Down  knelt  the  old  man,  his 
shoulders  bare,  his  bald  head  glistening  in  the  sunshine, 
and  his  aged  knees  on  the  cold,  damp  ground.  In  this 
humble  and  debasing  attitude,  that  master,  to  whom  he 
had  devoted  the  best  years  and  tlie  best  strength  of  his 
life,  came  forward  and  laid  on  thirty  lashes  with  his  horse- 
whip. The  old  man  made  no  resistance,  but  bore  it 
patiently,  answering  each  blow  with  only  a  shrug  of  the 
shoulders  and  a  groan.  I  do  not  think  that  the  physical 
suffering  from  this  infliction  was  severe,  for  the  whip  was 
a  light  riding-whip ;  but  the  spectacle  of  an  aged  man — a 
husband  and  a  father — humbly  kneeling  before  his  fellow- 
man,  shocked  me  at  the  time ;  and  since  I  have  grown 
older,  few  of  the  features  of  slavery  have  impressed  me 
with  a  deeper  sense  of  its  injustice  and  barbarity  than  this 
exciting  scene.  I  owe  it  to  the  truth,  however,  to  say  that 
this  was  tlie  first  and  last  time  I  ever  saw  a  slave  com- 
pelled to  kneel  to  receive  a  whipping. 

Another  incident,  illustrating  a  phase  of  slavery  to 
which  I  have  referred  in  another  connection,  I  may  here 
mention.  Besides  two  other  coachmen.  Col.  Lloyd  owned 
one  named  William  Wilks,  and  his  was  one  of  the  excep- 
tionable cases  where  a  slave  possessed  a  surname,  and 
was  recognized  by  it,  by  both  colored  and  white  people. 
Wilks  was  a  very  fine-looking  man.  He  was  about  as 
white  as  any  one  on  the  plantation,  and  in  form  and  fea- 
ture bore  a  very  striking  resemblance  to  Murray  Lloyd. 
It  was  whispered  and  generally  believed  that  William 
Wilks  was  a  son  of  Col.  Lloyd,  by  a  highly  favored  slave- 
woman,  who  was  still  on  the  plantation.  There  were 
many  reasons  for  believing  this  whisper,  not  only  from  his 

Col.  Lloyd  Whipping  Baknet. 


personal  appearance,  but  from  the  undeniable  freedom 
which  he  enjoyed  over  all  others,  and  his  apparent  con- 
sciousness of  being  something  more  than  a  slave  to  his 
master.  It  was  notorious  too  that  William  had  a  deadly 
enemy  in  Murray  Lloyd,  whom  he  so  much  resembled, 
and  that  the  latter  greatly  worried  his  father  with  impor- 
tunities to  sell  William.  Indeed,  he  gave  his  father  no 
rest,  until  he  did  sell  him  to  Austin  Woldfolk,  the  great 
slave-trader  at  that  time.  Before  selling  him,  however, 
he  tried  to  make  things  smooth  by  giving  William  a  whip- 
ping, but  it  proved  a  failure.  It  was  a  compromise,  and 
like  most  such,  defeated  itself, — for  soon  after  Col.  Lloyd 
atoned  to  William  for  the  abuse  by  giving  him  a  gold 
watch  and  chain.  Another  fact  somewhat  curious  was, 
that  though  sold  to  the  remorseless  Woldfolk,  taken  in 
irons  to  Baltimore,  and  cast  into  prison,  with  a  view  to 
being  sent  to  the  South,  William  outbid  all  his  purchasers, 
paid  for  himself,  and  afterwards  resided  in  Baltimore. 
How  this  was  accomplished  was  a  great  mystery  at  the 
time,  explained  only  on  the  supposition  that  the  hand 
which  had  bestowed  the  gold  watch  and  chain  had  also 
supplied  the  purchase-money,  but  I  have  since  learned 
that  this  was  not  the  true  explanation.  Wilks  had  many 
friends  in  Baltimore  and  Annapolis,  and  they  united  to 
save  him  from  a  fate  which  was  one  of  all  others  most 
dreaded  by  the  slaves.  Practical  amalgamation  was  how- 
ever so  common  at  the  South,  and  so  many  circumstances 
pointed  in  that  direction,  that  there  was  little  reason  to 
doubt  that  William  Wilks  was  the  son  of  Edward  Lloyd. 
The  real  feelings  and  opinions  of  the  slaves  were  not 
much  known  or  respected  by  their  masters.  The  distance 
between  the  two  was  too  great  to  admit  of  such  knowl- 
edge ;  and  in  this  respect  Col.  Lloyd  was  no  exception 
to  the  rule.  His  slaves  were  so  numerous  he  did  not 
know  them  when  he  saw  them.  Nor,  indeed,  did  all  liis 
slaves   know   him.     It   is   reported   of  him,  that   riding 

74  A    STILL   TONGUE   MAKES   A    WISE   HEAD. 

along  tlie  road  one  day,  he  met  a  colored  man,  and 
addressed  him  in  what  was  the  usual  way  of  speaking  to 
colored  people  on  the  public  highways  of  the  South : 
"Well,  boy,  who  do  you  belong  to?"  "To  Col.  Lloyd," 
replied  the  slave.  "  Well,  does  the  Colonel  treat  you 
well?"  "No,  sir,"  was  the  ready  reply.  "  What,  does 
he  work  you  hard  ?"  "  Yes,  sir."  "  Well,  don't  he  give 
you  enough  to  eat  ? ''  "  Yes,  sir,  he  gives  me  enough  to 
eat,  such  as  it  is."  The  Colonel  rode  on ;  the  slave  also 
went  on  about  his  business,  not  dreaming  that  he  had 
been  conversing  with  his  master.  He  thought  and  said 
nothing  of  the  matter,  until  two  or  three  weeks  after- 
wards, he  was  informed  by  his  overseer  that,  for  having 
found  fault  with  his  master,  he  was  now  to  be  sold  to  a 
Georgia  trader.  He  was  immediately  chained  and  hand- 
cuffed ;  and  thus,  without  a  moment's  warning,  he  was 
snatched  away,  and  forever  sundered  from  his  family  and 
friends  by  a  hand  as  unrelenting  as  that  of  death.  This 
was  the  penalty  of  telling  the  simple  truth,  in  answer  to 
a  series  of  plain  questions.  It  was  partly  in  consequence 
of  such  facts,  that  slaves,  when  inquired  of  as  to  their 
condition  and  the  character  of  their  masters,  would 
almost  invariably  say  that  they  were  contented  and  their 
masters  kind.  Slaveholders  are  known  to  have  sent  spies 
among  their  slaves  to  ascertain,  if  possible,  their  views 
and  feelings  in  regard  to  their  condition ;  hence  the 
maxim  established  among  them,  that  "a  still  tongue 
makes  a  wise  head."  They  would  suppress  the  truth 
rather  than  take  the  consequences  of  telling  it,  and  in  so 
doing  they  prove  themselves  a  part  of  the  human  family. 
I  was  frequently  asked  if  I  had  a  kind  master,  and  1  do 
not  remember  ever  to  have  given  a  negative  reply.  I  did 
not  consider  myself  as  uttering  that  which  was  strictly 
untrue,  for  I  always  measured  the  kindness  of  my  master 
by  the  standard  of  kindness  set  up  by  the  slaveholders 
around  us. 



Austin  Gore — Sketch  of  his  character — Overseers  as  a  class — Their 
peculiar  characteristics — The  marked  individuality  of  Austin  Gore 
— His  sense  of  duty — Murder  of  poor  Denby — Sensation — How 
Gore  made  his  peace  with  Col.  Lloyd — Other  horrible  murders — No 
laws  for  the  protection  of  slaves  possible  of  being  enforced. 

THE  comparatively  moderate  rule  of  Mr.  Hopkins  as 
overseer  on  Col.  Lloyd's  plantation  was  succeeded 
by  that  of  another,  whose  name  was  Austin  Gore.  I 
hardly  know  how  to  bring  this  fitly  before  the 
reader ;  for  under  him  there  was  more  suffering  from  vio- 
lence and  bloodshed  than  had,  according  to  the  older 
slaves,  ever  been  experienced  before  at  this  place.  He 
was  an  overseer,  and  possessed  the  peculiar  characteris- 
tics of  his  class;  yet  to  call  him  merely  an  overseer 
would  not  give  one  a  fair  conception  of  the  man.  I 
speak  of  overseers  as  a  class,  for  they  were  such.  They 
were  as  distinct  from  the  slaveholding  gentry  of  the 
South  as  are  the  fish-women  of  Paris  and  the  coal-heavers 
of  London  distinct  from  other  grades  of  society.  They 
constituted  a  separate  fraternity  at  the  South.  They 
were  arranged  and  classified  by  that  great  law  of  attrac- 
tion which  determines  the  sphere  and  affinities  of  men; 
which  ordains  that  men  whose  malign  and  brutal  propen- 
sities preponderate  over  their  moral  and  intellectual 
endowments  shall  naturally  fall  into  those  employments 
which  promise  the  largest  gratification  to  those  predom- 
inating instincts  or  propensities.  The  office  of  overseer 
took  this   raw  material  of  vulgarity  and  brutality,  and 



stamped  it  as  a  distinct  class  in  southern  life.  But  in 
tills  class,  as  in  all  other  classes,  there  were  sometimes 
persons  of  marked  individuality,  yet  with  a  general 
resemblance  to  the  mass.  Mr.  Gore  was  one  of  those  to 
whom  a  general  characterization  would  do  no  manner  of 
justice.  He  was  an  overseer,  but  he  was  something 
more.  With  the  malign  and  tyrannical  qualities  of  an 
overseer  he  combined  something  of  the  lawful  master. 
He  had  the  artfulness  and  mean  ambition  of  his  class, 
without  its  disgusting  swagger  and  noisy  bravado.  There 
was  an  easy  air  of  independence  about  him,  a  calm  self- 
possession,  at  the  same  time  a  sternness  of  glance  which 
well  might  daunt  less  timid  hearts  than  those  of  poor 
slaves,  accustomed  from  childhood  to  cower  before  a 
driver's  lash.  He  was  one  of  those  overseers  who  could 
torture  the  slightest  word  or  look  into  impudence,  and  he 
had  the  nerve  not  only  to  resent,  but  to  punish  promptly 
and  severely.  There  could  be  no  answering  back.  Guilty 
or  not  guilty,  to  be  accused  was  to  be  sure  of  a  flogging. 
His  very  presence  was  fearful,  and  I  sliunned  him  as  I 
would  have  shunned  a  rattlesnake.  His  piercing  black 
eyes  and  sharp,  shrill  voice  ever  awakened  sensations  of 
dread.  Other  overseers,  how  brutal  soever  they  might 
be,  would  sometimes  seek  to  gain  favor  with  the  slaves 
by  indulging  in  a  little  pleasantry ;  but  Gore  never  said  a 
funny  thing  or  perpetrated  a  joke.  He  was  always  cold, 
distant,  and  unapproachable — the  overseer  on  Col.  Edward 
Lloyd's  plantation — and  needed  no  higher  pleasure  than 
the  performance  of  the  duties  of  his  office.  When  he 
used  the  lash,  it  was  from  a  sense  of  duty,  without  fear 
of  consequences.  There  was  a  stern  will,  an  iron-like 
reality  about  him,  which  would  easily  have  made  him 
chief  of  a  band  of  pirates,  had  his  environments  been 
favorable  to  such  a  sphere.  Among  many  other  deeds  of 
shocking  oi'uelty  committed  by  him  was  the  murder  of  a 

BILL  denby's  murder.  77 

young  colored  man  named  Bill  Denby.  He  was  a  power- 
ful fellow,  full  of  animal  spirits,  and  one  of  the  most  val- 
uable of  Col.  Lloyd's  slaves.  In  some  way,  I  know  not 
what,  he  offended  this  Mr.  Austin  Gore,  and,  in  accord- 
ance with  the  usual  custom,  the  latter  undertook  to  flog 
him.  He  had  given  him  but  a  few  stripes  when  Denby 
broke  away  from  him,  plunged  into  the  creek,  and,  stand- 
ing there  with  the  water  up  to  his  neck,  refused  to  come 
out;  whereupon,  for  this  refusal.  Gore  shot  Mm  dead! 
It  was  said  that  Gore  gave  Denby  three  calls  to  come 
out,  telling  him  if  he  did  not  obey  the  last  call  he  should 
shoot  him.  When  the  last  call  was  given  Denby  still 
stood  his  ground,  and  Gore,  without  further  parley,  or 
without  making  any  further  effort  to  induce  obedience, 
raised  his  gun  deliberately  to  his  face,  took  deadly  aim  at 
his  standing  victim,  and  with  one  click  of  the  gun  the 
mangled  body  sank  out  of  sight,  and  only  his  warm  red 
blood  marked  the  place  where  he  had  stood. 

This  fiendish  murder  produced,  as  it  could  not  help 
doing,  a  tremendous  sensation.  The  slaves  were  panic- 
stricken,  and  howled  with  alarm.  The  atrocity  roused 
my  old  master,  and  he  spoke  out  in  reprobation  of  it. 
Both  he  and  Col.  Lloyd  arraigned  Gore  for  his  cruelty ; 
but  he,  calm  and  collected,  as  though  nothing  unusual 
had  happened,  declared  that  Denby  had  become  unman- 
ageable ;  that  he  set  a  dangerous  example  to  the  other 
slaves,  and  that  unless  some  such  prompt  measure  was 
resorted  to  there  would  be  an  end  of  all  rule  and  order  on 
the  plantation.  That  convenient  covert  for  all  manner  of 
villainy  and  outrage,  that  cowardly  alarm-cry,  that  the 
slaves  would  "  take  the  place,"  was  pleaded,  just  as  it  had 
been  in  thousands  of  similar  cases.  Gore's  defense  was 
evidently  considered  satisfactory,  for  he  was  continued  in 
his  office,  without  being  subjected  to  a  judicial  investiga- 
tion. The  murder  was  committed  in  the  presence  of 


slaves  only,  and  tliey,  being  slaves,  could  neither  institute 
a  suit  nor  testify  against  the  murderer.  Mr.  Gore  lived 
in  St.  Michaels,  Talbot  Co.,  Maryland,  and  I  have  no  rea- 
son to  doubt,  from  what  I  know  to  have  been  the  moral 
sentiment  of  the  place,  that  he  was  as  highly  esteemed 
and  as  much  respected  as  though  his  guilty  soul  had  not 
been  stained  with  innocent  blood. 

I  speak  advisedly  when  I  say  that  killing  a  slave,  or 
any  colored  person,  in  Talbot  Co.,  Maryland,  was  not 
treated  as  a  crime,  either  by  the  courts  or  the  community. 
Mr.  Thomas  Lanman,  ship  carpenter  of  St.  Michaels,  killed 
two  slaves,  one  of  whom  he  butchered  with  a  hatchet,  by 
knocking  his  brains  out.  He  used  to  boast  of  having 
committed  the  awful  and  bloody  deed.  1  have  heard  him 
do  so  laughingly,  declaring  himself  a  benefactor  of  his 
country,  and  that  "  when  others  would  do  as  much  as  he 
had  done,  they  would  be  rid  of  the  d d  niggers." 

Another  notorious  fact  which  I  may  state  was  the  mur- 
der of  a  young  girl  between  fifteen  and  sixteen  years  of 
age,  by  her  mistress,  Mrs.  Giles  Hicks,  who  lived  but  a 
short  distance  from  Col.  Lloyd's.  This  wicked  woman, 
in  the  paroxysm  of  her  wrath,  not  content  at  killing  her 
victim,  literally  mangled  her  face  and  broke  her  breast- 
bone. Wild  and  infuriated  as  she  was,  she  took  the  pre- 
caution to  cause  the  burial  of  the  girl ;  but,  the  facts  of 
the  case  getting  abroad,  the  remains  were  disinterred  and 
a  coroner's  jury  assembled,  who,  after  due  deliberation, 
decided  that  "  the  girl  had  come  to  her  death  from  severe 
beating."  The  offense  for  which  this  girl  was  thus  hur- 
ried out  of  the  world  was  this :  she  had  been  set  that 
night,  and  several  preceding  nights,  to  mind  Mrs.  Hicks' 
baby,  and  having  fallen  into  a  sound  sleep  the  crying  of 
the  baby  did  not  wake  her,  as  it  did  its  mother.  The  tar- 
diness of  the  girl  excited  Mrs.  Hicks,  who,  after  calling 
her  several  times,  seized  a  piece  of  fire-wood  from  the  fire- 

Gore  Shooting  Denby 

WORTH    HALF   A    CENT   TO    KILL   A   NIGGER.  81 

place  and  pounded  in  her  skull  and  breast-bone  till  death 
ensued.  I  will  not  say  that  this  murder  most  foul  pro- 
duced no  sensation.  It  did  produce  a  sensation.  A  war- 
rant was  issued  for  the  arrest  of  Mrs.  Hicks,  but  incredi- 
ble to  tell,  for  some  reason  or  other,  that  warrant  was 
never  served,  and  she  not  only  escaped  condign  punish- 
ment, but  the  pain  and  mortification  as  well  of  being 
arraigned  before  a  court  of  justice. 

While  I  am  detailing  the  bloody  deeds  that  took  place 
during  my  stay  on  Col.  Lloyd's  plantation,  I  will  briefly 
narrate  another  dark  transaction,  which  occurred  about 
the  time  of  the  murder  of  Denby. 

On  the  side  of  the  river  Wye  opposite  from  Col.  Lloyd's, 
there  lived  a  Mr.  Beal  Bondley,  a  wealthy  slaveholder. 
In  the  direction  of  his  land,  and  near  the  shore,  there  was 
an  excellent  oyster  fishing-ground,  and  to  this  some  of 
Lloyd's  slaves  occasionally  resorted  in  their  little  canoes 
at  night,  with  a  view  to  make  up  the  deficiency  of  their 
scanty  allowance  of  food  by  the  oysters  that  they  could 
easily  get  there.  Mr.  Bondley  took  it  into  his  head  to  re- 
gard this  as  a  trespass,  and  while  an  old  man  slave  was 
engaged  in  catching  a  few  of  the  many  millions  of  oys- 
ters that  lined  the  bottom  of  the  creek,  to  satisfy  his  hun- 
ger, the  rascally  Bondley,  lying  in  ambush,  without  the 
slightest  warning,  discharged  the  contents  of  his  musket 
into  the  back  of  the  poor  old  man.  As  good  fortune 
would  have  it,  the  shot  did  not  prove  fatal,  and  Mr. 
Bondley  came  over  the  next  day  to  see  Col.  Lloyd  about 
it.  What  happened  between  them  I  know  not,  but  there 
was  little  said  about  it  and  nothing  publicly  done.  One 
of  the  commonest  sayings  to  which  my  ears  early  became 
accustomed,  was  that  it  was  ''  worth  but  a  half  a  cent  to 
kill  a  nigger,  and  half  a  cent  to  bury  one."  While  I 
heard  of  numerous  murders  committed  by  slaveholders  on 
the  eastern  shore  of  Maryland,  I  never  knew  a  solitary 

82  NO   REDRESS. 

instance  where  a  slaveholder  was  either  hung  or  imprisoned 
for  having  murdered  a  slave.  The  usual  pretext  for  such 
crimes  was  that  the  slave  had  offered  resistance.  Should 
a  slave,  when  assaulted,  but  raise  his  hand  in  self-defense, 
the  white  assaulting  party  was  fully  justified  by  southern 
law  and  southern  public  opinion  in  shooting  the  slave 
down,  and  for  this  there  was  no  redress. 



Miss  Lucretia — Her  kindness — How  it  was  manifested — "Ike" — A 
battle  with  him — Miss  Lucretia's  balsam — Bread — How  it  was  ob- 
tained— Gleams  of  sunlight  amidst  the  general  darkness — Suffering 
from  cold— ^How  we  took  our  meal  mush — Preparations  for  going 
to  Baltimore — Delight  at  the  change — Cousin  Tom's  opinion  of  Bal- 
timore— Arrival  there — Kind  reception — Mr.  and  Mrs.  Hugh  Auld 
— Their  son  Tommy — My  relations  to  them — My  duties — A  turning 
point  in  my  life. 

I  HAVE  nothing  cruel  or  shocking  to  relate  of  my 
own  personal  experience  while  I  remained  on  Col. 
Lloyd's  plantation,  at  the  home  of  my  old  master.  An 
occasional  cuff  from  Aunt  Katy,  and  a  regular  whipping 
from  old  master,  such  as  any  heedless  and  mischievous 
boy  might  get  from  his  father,  is  all  that  I  have  to  say  of 
this  sort.  I  was  not  old  enough  to  work  in  the  field,  and 
there  being  little  else  than  field-work  to  perform,  I  had 
much  leisure.  The  most  I  had  to  do  was  to  drive  up  the 
cows  in  the  evening,  to  keep  the  front  yard  clean,  and  to 
perform  small  errands  for  my  young  mistress,  Lucretia 
Auld.  I  had  reasons  for  thinking  this  lady  was  very 
kindly  disposed  towards  me,  and  although  I  was  not  often 
the  object  of  her  attention,  I  constantly  regarded  her  as 
my  friend,  and  was  always  glad  when  it  was  my  privilege 
to  do  her  a  service.  In  a  family  where  there  was  so  much 
that  was  harsh  and  indifferent,  the  slightest  word  or  look 
of  kindness  was  of  great  value.  Miss  Lucretia — as  we 
all  continued  to  call  her  long  after  her  marriage — had  be- 
stowed on  me  such  looks  and  words  as  taught  me  that 
she  pitied  me,  if  she  did  not  love  me.      She  sometimes 


84  AUNT   KATY. 

gave  me  a  piece  of  bread  and  butter,  an  article  not  set 
down  in  our  bill  of  fare,  but  an  extra  ration  aside  from 
both  Aunt  Katy  and  old  master,  and  given  as  I  believed 
solely  out  of  the  tender  regard  she  had  for  me.      Then, 
too,  I  one  day  got  into  the  wars  with  Uncle  Abel's  son 
''  Ike,''  and  had  got  sadly  worsted  ;  the  little  rascal  struck 
me  directly  in  the  forehead  with  a  sharp  piece  of  cinder, 
fused  with  iron,  from  the  old  blacksmith's  forge,  which 
made  a  cross  in  my  forehead  very  plainly  to  be  seen  even 
now.     The  gash  bled  very  freely,  and  I  roared  and  betook 
myself  home.      The  cold-hearted  Aunt  Katy  paid  no  at- 
tention either  to  my  wound  or  my  roaring  except  to  tell 
me  it  "  served  me  right ;    I  had  no  business  with  Ike  ;   it 
would  do  me  good ;    I  would  now  keep  away  from  '  dem 
Lloyd  niggers.'  "     Miss  Lucretia  in  this  state  of  the  case 
came  forward,  and  called  me  into  the  parlor   (an  extra 
privilege  of  itself),  and  without  using  toward  me  any  of 
the  hard  and  reproachful  epithets  of  Aunt  Katy,  quietly 
acted  the  good  Samaritan.      With  her  own  soft  hand  she 
washed  the  blood  from  my  head  and  face,  brought  her 
own  bottle  of  balsam,  and  with  the  balsam  wetted  a  nice 
piece  of  white  linen  and  bound  up  my  head.     The  balsam 
was  not  more  healing  to  the  wound  in  my  head,  than  her 
kindness  was  healing  to  the  wounds  in  my  spirit,  induced 
by  the  unfeeling  words  of  Aunt  Katy. 

After  this  Miss  Lucretia  was  yet  more  my  friend.  I 
felt  her  to  be  such  ;  and  I  have  no  doubt  that  the  simple 
act  of  binding  up  my  head  did  much  to  awaken  in  her 
heart  an  interest  in  my  welfare.  It  is  quite  true  that  this 
interest  seldom  showed  itself  in  anything  more  than  in 
giving  me  a  piece  of  bread  and  butter,  but  this  was  a 
great  favor  on  a  slave  plantation,  and  I  was  the  only  one 
of  the  children  to  whom  such  attention  was  paid.  When 
very  severely  pinched  with  hunger,  I  had  the  habit  of 
singing,  which  the  good  lady  very  soon  came  to  under- 

HOW   HE   LIVED.  85 

stand,  and  when  she  heard  me  sinking  under  her  window 
I  was  very  apt  to  be  paid  for  my  music. 

Thus  I  had  two  friends,  both  at  important  points — 
Mas'r  Daniel  at  the  great  house,  and  Miss  Lucretia  at 
home.  From  Mas'r  Daniel  I  got  protection  from  the  big- 
ger boys,  and  from  Miss  Lucretia  I  got  bread  by  singing 
when  I  was  hungry,  and  sympathy  when  I  was  abused  by 
the  termagant  in  the  kitchen.  For  such  friendship  I  was 
deeply  grateful,  and  bitter  as  are  my  recollections  of 
slavery,  it  is  a  true  pleasure  to  recall  any  instances  of 
kindness,  any  sunbeams  of  humane  treatment,  which 
found  way  to  my  soul,  through  the  iron  grating  of  my 
house  of  bondage.  Such  beams  seem  all  the  brighter 
from  the  general  darkness  into  which  they  penetrate,  and 
the  impression  they  make  there  is  vividly  distinct. 

As  before  intimated,  I  received  no  severe  treatment 
from  the  hands  of  my  master,  but  the  insufficiency  of 
both  food  and  clothing  was  a  serious  trial  to  me,  espec- 
ially from  the  lack  of  clothing.  In  hottest  summer  and 
coldest  winter  I  was  kept  almost  in  a  state  of  nudity. 
My  only  clothing — a  little  coarse  sack-cloth  or  tow-linen 
sort  of  shirt,  scarcely  reaching  to  my  knees,  was  worn 
night  and  day  and  changed  once  a  week.  In  the  day 
time  I  could  protect  myself  by  keeping  on  the  sunny  side 
of  the  house,  or  in  stormy  weather,  in  the  corner  of  the 
kitchen  chimney.  But  the  great  difficulty  was  to  keep 
warm  during  the  night.  The  pigs  in  the  pen  had  leaves, 
and  the  horses  in  the  stable  had  straw,  but  the  children 
had  no  beds.  They  lodged  anywhere  in  the  ample 
kitchen.  I  slept  generally  in  a  little  closet,  without  even 
a  blanket  to  cover  me.  In  very  cold  weather  I  sometimes 
got  down  the  bag  in  which  corn  was  carried  to  the  mill, 
and  crawled  into  that.  Sleeping  there  with  my  head  in 
and  my  feet  out,  I  was  partly  protected,  though  never  com- 
fortable.     My  feet  have  been  so  cracked  with  the  frost 


that  the  pen  with  which  I  am  writing  might  be  laid  in  the 
gashes.  Our  corn  meal  mush,  which  was  our  only  regu- 
lar if  not  all-sufficing  diet,  when  sufficiently  cooled  from 
the  cooking,  was  placed  in  a  large  tray  or  trough.  This 
was  set  down  either  on  the  floor  of  the  kitchen,  or  out  of 
doors  on  the  ground,  and  the  children  were  called  like  so 
many  pigs,  and  like  so  many  pigs  would  come,  some  with 
oyster-shells,  some  with  pieces  of  shingles,  but  none  with 
spoons,  and  literally  devour  the  mush.  He  who  could  eat 
fastest  got  most,  and  he  that  was  strongest  got  the  best 
place,  but  few  left  the  trough  really  satisfied.  I  was  the 
most  unlucky  of  all,  for  Aunt  Katy  had  no  good  feeling 
for  me,  and  if  I  pushed  the  children,  or  if  they  told  her 
anything  unfavorable  of  me,  she  always  believed  the  worst 
and  was  sure  to  whip  me. 

As  I  grew  older  and  more  thoughtful,  I  became  more 
and  more  filled  with  a  sense  of  my  wretchedness.  The 
unkindness  of  Aunt  Katy,  the  hunger  and  cold  I  suffered, 
and  the  terrible  reports  of  wrongs  and  outrages  which 
came  to  my  ear,  together  with  what  I  almost  daily  wit- 
nessed, led  me  to  wish  I  had  never  been  born.  I  used  to 
contrast  my  condition  with  that  of  the  black-birds,  in 
whose  wild  and  sweet  songs  I  fancied  them  so  happy. 
Their  apparent  joy  only  deepened  the  shades  of  my  sor- 
row. There  are  thoughtful  days  in  the  lives  of  children — 
at  least  there  were  in  mine — when  they  grapple  with  all 
the  great  primary  subjects  of  knowledge,  and  reach  in  a 
moment  conclusions  which  no  subsequent  experience  can 
shake.  I  was  just  as  well  aware  of  the  unjust,  unnatural, 
and  murderous  character  of  slavery,  when  nine  years  old, 
as  I  am  now.  Without  any  appeals  to  books,  to  laws,  or 
to  authorities  of  any  kind,  to  regard  God  as  "Our  Father," 
condemned  slavery  as  a  crime. 

I  was  in  this  unhappy  state  when  I  received  from  Miss 
Lucretia  the  joyful  intelligence  that  my  old  master  had 

HE   IS   SENT   TO    BALTIMORE.  87 

determined  to  let  me  go  to  Baltimore  to  live  with  Mr. 
Hugh  Auld,  a  brother  to  Mr.  Thomas  Auld,  Miss  Lucre- 
tia's  husband.  I  shall  never  forget  the  ecstacy  with 
which  I  received  this  information,  three  days  before  the 
time  set  for  my  departure.  They  were  the  three  happiest 
days  I  had  ever  known.  I  spent  the  largest  part  of  them 
in  the  creek,  washing  off  the  plantation  scurf,  and  thus 
preparing  for  my  new  home.  Miss  Lucretia  took  a  lively 
interest  in  getting  me  ready.  She  told  me  I  must  get  all 
the  dead  skin  off  my  feet  and  knees,  for  the  people  in 
Baltimore  were  very  cleanly,  and  would  laugh  at  me  if  I 
looked  dirty ;  and  besides  she  was  intending  to  give  me  a 
pair  of  trowsers,  but  which  I  could  not  put  on  unless  I 
got  all  the  dirt  off.  This  was  a  warning  which  I  was 
bound  to  heed,  for  the  thought  of  owning  and  wearing  a 
pair  of  trowsers  was  great  indeed.  So  I  went  at  it  in 
good  earnest,  working  for  the  first  time  in  my  life  in  the 
hope  of  reward.  I  was  greatly  excited,  and  could  hardly 
consent  to  sleep  lest  I  should  be  left. 

The  ties  that  ordinarily  bind  children  to  their  homes  had 
no  existence  in  my  case,  and  in  thinking  of  a  home  else- 
where, I  was  confident  of  finding  none  that  I  should  relish 
less  than  the  one  I  was  leaving.  If  I  should  meet  with 
hardship,  hunger,  and  nakedness,  I  had  known  them  all 
before,  and  I  could  endure  them  elsewhere,  especially  in 
Baltimore,  for  I  had  something  of  the  feeling  about  that 
city  that  is  expressed  in  the  saying  that  "  being  hanged  in 
England  is  better  than  dying  a  natural  death  in  Ireland." 
I  had  the  strongest  desire  to  see  Baltimore.  My  cousin 
Tom,  a  boy  two  or  three  years  older  than  I,  had  been 
there,  and,  though  not  fluent  in  speech  (he  stuttered  im- 
moderately), he  had  inspired  me  with  that  desire  by  his 
eloquent  descriptions  of  the  place.  Tom  was  sometimes 
cabin-boy  on  board  the  sloop  "  Sally  Lloyd  "  (which  Capt. 
Thomas  Auld   commanded),  and  when  he  came  home 

88  ON   THE   SALLY   LLOYD. 

from  Baltimore  he  was  always  a  sort  of  hero  among  us, 
at  least  till  his  trip  to  Baltimore  was  forgotten.  I  could 
never  tell  him  anything,  or  point  out  anything  that  struck 
me  as  beautiful  or  powerful,  but  that  he  had  seen  some- 
thing in  Baltimore  far  surpassing  it.  Even  the  "  great 
house,"  with  all  its  pictures  within  and  pillars  without,  he 
had  the  hardihood  to  say,  "  was  nothing  to  Baltimore." 
He  bought  a  trumpet  (worth  sixpence)  and  brought  it 
home ;  told  what  he  had  seen  in  the  windows  of  the 
stores ;  that  he  had  heard  shooting-crackers,  and  seen 
soldiers ;  that  he  had  seen  a  steamboat ;  that  there  were 
ships  in  Baltimore  that  could  carry  four  such  sloops  as 
the  "  Sally  Lloyd."  He  said  a  great  deal  about  the  Mar- 
ket house ;  of  the  ringing  of  the  bells,  and  of  many  other 
things  which  roused  my  curiosity  very  much,  and  in- 
deed brightened  my  hopes  of  happiness  in  my  new 

We  sailed  out  of  Miles  River  for  Baltimore  early  on  a 
Saturday  morning.  I  remember  only  the  day  of  the 
week,  for  at  that  time  I  had  no  knowledge  of  the  days  of 
the  month,  nor  indeed  of  the  months  of  the  year.  On 
setting  sail  I  walked  aft  and  gave  to  Col.  Lloyd's  planta- 
tion what  I  hoped  would  be  the  last  look  I  should  give  to 
it,  or  to  any  place  like  it.  After  taking  this  last  view,  I 
quitted  the  quarter-deck,  made  my  way  to  the  bow  of  the 
boat,  and  spent  the  remainder  of  the  day  in  looking 
ahead ;  interesting  myself  in  what  was  in  the  distance, 
rather  than  in  what  was  near  by,  or  behind.  The  vessels 
SAveeping  along  the  bay  were  objects  full  of  interest  to 
me.  The  broad  bay  opened  like  a  shoreless  ocean  on  my 
boyish  vision,  filling  me  with  wonder  and  admiration. 

Late  in  the  afternoon  we  reached  Annapolis,  stopping 
there  not  long  enough  to  admit  of  going  ashore.  It  was 
the  first  large  town  I  had  ever  seen,  and  though  it  was 
inferior  to  many  a  factory  village  in  New  England,  my 


feelings  on  seeing  it  were  excited  to  a  pitch  very  little 
below  that  reached  by  travelers  at  the  first  view  of  Rome. 
The  dome  of  the  State  house  was  especially  imposing,  and 
surpassed  in  grandeur  the  appearance  of  the  "great 
house"  I  had  left  behind.  So  the  great  world  was  open- 
ing upon  me,  and  I  was  eagerly  acquainting  myself  with 
its  multifarious  lessons. 

We  arrived  in  Baltimore  on  Sunday  morning,  and 
landed  at  Smith's  wharf,  not  far  from  Bowly's  wharf.  We 
had  on  board  a  large  flock  of  sheep  for  the  Baltimore 
market ;  and  after  assisting  in  driving  them  to  the  slaugh- 
ter house  of  Mr.  Curtiss,  on  Loudon  Slater's  hill,  I  was 
conducted  by  Rich — one  of  the  hands  belonging  to  the 
sloop — to  my  new  home  on  Alliciana  street,  near  Gardi- 
ner's ship  yard,  on  Fell's  point.  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Hugh 
Auld,  my  new  master  and  mistress,  were  both  at  home, 
and  met  me  at  the  door  with  their  rosy-cheeked  little 
son  Thomas,  to  take  care  of  whom  was  to  constitute  my 
future  occupation.  In  fact  it  was  to  "  little  Tommy," 
rather  than  to  his  parents,  that  old  master  made  a  pres- 
ent of  me,  and,  though  there  was  no  legal  form  or  ar- 
rangement entered  into,  I  have  no  doubt  that  Mr.  and 
Mrs.  Auld  felt  that  in  due  time  I  should  be  the  legal  prop- 
erty of  their  bright-eyed  and  beloved  boy  Tommy.  I 
was  struck  with  the  appearance  especially  of  my  new 
mistress.  Her  face  was  lighted  with  the  kindliest  emo- 
tions ;  and  the  reflex  influence  of  her  countenance,  as 
well  as  the  tenderness  with  which  she  seemed  to  regard 
me,  while  asking  me  sundry  little  questions,  greatly  de- 
lighted me,  and  lit  up,  to  my  fancy,  the  pathway  of  my 
future.  Little  Thomas  was  affectionately  told  by  his 
mother,  that  "  there  was  his  Freddy,"  and  that  "  Freddy 
would  take  care  of  him  ;"  and  I  was  told  to  "  be  kind  to 
little  Tommy,"  an  injunction  I  scarcely  needed,  for  I  had 
already  fallen  in  love  with  the  dear  boy.     With  these  little 


ceremonies  I  was  initiated  into  my  new  home,  and  entered 
upon  my  peculiar  duties,  then  unconscious  of  a  cloud  to 
dim  its  broad  horizon. 

I  may  say  here  that  I  regard  my  removal  from  Col. 
Lloyd's  plantation  as  one  of  the  most  interesting  and  for- 
tunate events  of  my  life.  Viewing  it  in  the  light  of  hu- 
man likelihoods,  it  is  quite  probable  that  but  for  the  mere 
circumstance  of  being  thus  removed,  before  the  rigors  of 
slavery  had  fully  fastened  upon  me ;  before  my  young 
spirit  had  been  crushed  under  the  iron  control  of  the 
slave-driver,  I  might  have  continued  in  slavery  until 
emancipated  by  the  war. 




City  annoyances — Plantation  regrets — My  mistress — Her  history — 
Her  kindness — My  master — His  sourness — My  comforts — Increased 
sensitiveness — My  occupation — Learning  to  read — Baneful  effects 
of  slaveholding  on  my  dear,  good  mistress — Mr.  Hugh  forbids  Mrs. 
Sophia  to  teach  me  further — Clouds  gather  on  my  bright  prospects 
•^Master  Auld's  exposition  of  the  Philosophy  of  Slavery — City 
slaves — Country  slaves — Contrasts — Exceptions — Mr.  Hamilton's 
two  slaves — Mrs.  Hamilton's  cruel  treatment  of  them — Piteous  as- 
pect presented  by  them — No  power  to  come  between  the  slave  and 

ESTABLISHED  in  my  new  home  in  Baltimore,  I  was 
not  very  long  in  perceiving  that  in  picturing  to  my- 
Belf  what  was  to  be  my  life  there,  my  imagination  had 
painted  only  the  bright  side ;  and  that  the  reality  had  its 
dark  shades  as  well  as  its  light  ones.  The  open  coun- 
try which  had  been  so  much  to  me  was  all  shut  out. 
Walled  in  on  every  side  by  towering  brick  buildings,  the 
heat  of  the  summer  was  intolerable  to  me,  and  the  hard 
brick  pavements  almost  blistered  my  feet.  If  I  ventured 
out  on  to  the  streets,  new  and  strange  objects  glared  upon 
me  at  every  step,  and  startling  sounds  greeted  my  ears 
from  all  directions.  My  country  eyes  and  ears  were  con- 
fused and  bewildered.  Troops  of  hostile  boys  pounced 
upon  me  at  every  corner.  They  chased  me,  and  called 
me  "  Eastern-Shore  man,"  till  really  I  almost  wished  my- 
self back  on  the  Eastern  Shore.  My  new  mistress  happily 
proved  to  be  all  she  had  seemed,  and  in  her  presence  I 
easily  forgot  all  outside  annoyances.  Mrs.  Sophia  was 
naturally  of  an  excellent  disposition — kind,  gentle,  and 



cheerful.  The  supercilious  contempt  for  the  rights  and 
feelings  of  others,  and  the  petulance  and  bad  humor 
which  generally  characterized  slaveholding  ladies,  were 
all  quite  absent  from  her  manner  and  bearing  toward 

She  had  never  been  a  slaveholder — a  thing  then  quite 
unusual  at  the  South — but  had  depended  almost  entirely 
upon  her  own  industry  for  a  living.  To  this  fact  the  dear 
lady  no  doubt  owed  the  excellent  preservation  of  her  nat- 
ural goodness  of  heart,  for  slavery  could  change  a  saint 
into  a  sinner,  and  an  angel  into  a  demon.  I  hardly  knew 
how  to  behave  towards  "  Miss  Soplia,"  as  I  used  to  call 
Mrs.  Hugh  Auld.  I  could  not  approach  her  even  as  I 
had  formerly  approached  Mrs.  Thomas  Auld.  Why 
should  I  hang  down  my  head,  and  speak  with  bated 
breath,  when  there  was  no  pride  to  scorn  me,  no  coldness 
to  repel  me,  and  no  hatred  to  inspire  me  with  fear  ?  I 
therefore  soon  came  to  regard  her  as  something  more 
akin  to  a  mother  than  a  slaveholding  mistress.  So  far 
from  deeming  it  impudent  in  a  slave  to  look  her  straight 
in  the  face,  she  seemed  ever  to  say,  "  look  up,  child;  don't 
be  afraid."  The  sailors  belonging  to  tlie  sloop  esteemed 
it  a  great  privilege  to  be  the  bearers  of  parcels  or  mes- 
sages for  her,  for  whenever  they  came,  they  were  sure  of  a 
most  kind  and  pleasant  reception.  If  little  Thomas  was 
her  son,  and  her  most  dearly  loved  child,  she  made  me 
something  like  his  half-brother  in  her  affections.  If  dear 
Tommy  was  exalted  to  a  place  on  his  mother's  knee, 
"  Freddy  "  was  honored  by  a  place  at  tlie  mother's  side. 
Nor  did  the  slave-boy  lack  the  caressing  strokes  of  her 
gentle  hand,  soothing  him  into  the  consciousness  that, 
though  motherless,  he  was  not  friendless.  Mrs.  Auld  was 
not  only  kind-hearted,  but  remarkably  pious;  frequent  in 
her  attendance  of  public  worship,  much  given  to  reading 
the  Bible,  and  to  chanting  hymns  of  praise  when  alone. 


Mr.  Hugh  was  altogether  a  different  character.  He  cared 
very  little  about  religion ;  knew  more  of  the  world  and 
was  more  a  part  of  the  world,  than  his  wife.  He  set  out 
doubtless  to  be,  as  the  world  goes,  a  respectable  man,  and 
to  get  on  by  becoming  a  successful  ship-builder,  in  that 
city  of  ship-building.  This  was  his  ambition,  and  it  fully 
occupied  him.  I  was  of  course  of  very  little  consequence^ 
to  him,  and  when  he  smiled  upon  me,  as  he  sometimes 
did,  the  smile  was  borrowed  from  his  lovely  wife,  and  like 
borrowed  light,  was  transient,  and  vanished  with  the 
source  whence  it  was  derived.  Though  I  must  in  truth 
characterize  Master  Hugh  as  a  sour  man  of  forbidding 
appearance,  it  is  due  to  him  to  acknowledge  that  he  was 
never  cruel  to  me,  according  to  the  notion  of  cruelty  in 
Maryland.  During  the  first  year  or  two,  he  left  me  al- 
most exclusively  to  the  management  of  his  wife.  She 
was  my  law-giver.  In  hands  so  tender  as  hers,  and  in  the 
absence  of  the  cruelties  of  the  plantation,  I  became  both 
physically  and  mentally  much  more  sensitive,  and  a  frown 
from  my  mistress  caused  me  far  more  suffering  than  had 
Aunt  Katy's  hardest  cuffs.  Instead  of  the  cold,  damp 
floor  of  my  old  master's  kitchen,  I  was  on  carpets  ;  for 
the  corn  bag  in  winter,  I  had  a  good  straw  bed,  well  fur- 
nished with  covers ;  for  the  coarse  corn  meal  in  the  morn- 
ing, I  had  good  bread  and  mush  occasionally ;  for  my  old 
tow-linen  shirt,  I  had  good  clean  clothes.  I  was  really 
well  off.  My  employment  was  to  run  of  errands,  and  to 
take  care  of  Tommy ;  to  prevent  his  getting  in  the  way 
of  carriages,  and  to  keep  him  out  of  harm's  way  gen- 

So  for  a  time  everything  went  well.  I  say  for  a  time, 
because  the  fatal  poison  of  irresponsible  power,  and  the 
natural  influence  of  slave  customs,  were  not  very  long  in 
making  their  impression  on  the  gentle  and  loving  dispo- 
sition of  my  excellent  mistress.     She  regarded  me  at  first 


as  a  child,  like  any  other.  This  was  the  natural  and 
spontaneous  thought ;  afterwards,  when  she  came  to  con- 
sider me  as  property,  our  relations  to  each  other  were 
changed,  but  a  nature  so  noble  as  hers  could  not  instantly 
become  perverted,  and  it  took  several  years  before  the 
sweetness  of  her  temper  was  wholly  lost. 

The  frequent  hearing  of  my  mistress  reading  the  Bible 
aloud,  for  she  often  read  aloud  when  her  husband  was 
absent,  awakened  my  curiosity  in  respect  to  this  mystery 
of  reading,  and  roused  in  me  the  desire  to  learn.  Up  to 
this  time  I  had  known  nothing  whatever  of  this  wonder- 
ful art,  and  my  ignorance  and  inexperience  of  what  it 
could  do  for  me,  as  well  as  my  confidence  in  my  mistress, 
emboldened  me  to  ask  her  to  teach  me  to  read.  With  an 
unconsciousness  and  inexperience  equal  to  my  own,  she 
readily  consented,  and  in  an  incredibly  short  time,  by  her 
kind  assistance,  I  had  mastered  the  alphabet  and  could 
spell  words  of  three  or  four  letters.  My  mistress  seemed 
almost  as  proud  of  my  progress  as  if  I  had  been  her  own 
child,  and  supposing  that  her  husband  would  be  as  well 
pleased,  she  made  no  secret  of  what  she  was  doing  for 
me.  Indeed,  she  exultingly  told  him  of  the  aptness  of 
her  pupil,  and  of  her  intention  to  persevere  in  teaching 
me,  as  she  felt  her  duty  to  do,  at  least  to  read  the  Bible. 
And  here  arose  the  first  dark  cloud  over  my  Baltimore 
prospects,  the  precursor  of  chilling  blasts  and  drenching 
storms.  Master  Hugh  was  astounded  beyond  measure, 
and  probably  for  the  first  time  proceeded  to  unfold  to  his 
wife  the  true  philosophy  of  the  slave  system,  and  the 
peculiar  rules  necessary  in  the  nature  of  the  case  to  be 
observed  in  the  management  of  human  chattels.  Of 
course  he  forbade  her  to  give  me  any  further  instruction, 
telling  her  in  the  first  place  that  to  do  so  was  unlawful, 
as  it  was  also  unsafe  ;  "  for,"  said  he,  "  if  you  give  a  nig- 
ger an  inch  he  will  take  an  ell.      Learning  will  spoil  the 

Mrs.  Auld  teaching  him  to  Read. 

THE   EFFECT   ON    HIM.  97 

best  nigger  in  the  world.  If  he  learns  to  read  the  Bible 
it  will  forever  unlit  him  to  be  a  slave.  He  should  know 
nothing  but  the  will  of  his  master,  and  learn  to  obey  it. 
As  to  himself,  learning  will  do  him  no  good,  but  a  great 
deal  of  harm,  making  him  disconsolate  and  unhappy.  If 
you  teach  him  how  to  read,  he'll  want  to  know  how  to 
write,  and  this  accomplished,  he'll  be  running  away  with 
himself."  Such  was  the  tenor  of  Master  Hugh's  oracular 
exposition ;  and  it  must  be  confessed  that  he  very  clearly 
comprehended  the  nature  and  the  requirements  of  the  rela- 
tion of  master  and  slave.  His  discourse  was  the  first  de- 
cidedly anti-slavery  lecture  to  which  it  had  been  my  lot  to 
listen.  Mrs.  Auld  evidently  felt  the  force  of  what  he 
said,  and  like  an  obedient  wife,  began  to  shape  her  course 
in  the  direction  indicated  by  him.  The  effect  of  his  words 
on  me  was  neither  slight  nor  transitory.  His  iron  sen- 
tences, cold  and  harsh,  sunk  like  heavy  weights  deep  into 
my  heart,  and  stirred  up  within  me  a  rebellion  not  soon  to 
be  allayed. 

This  was  a  new  and  special  revelation,  dispelling  a  pain- 
ful mystery  against  which  my  youthful  understanding 
had  struggled,  and  struggled  in  vain,  to  wit,  the  white 
man's  power  to  perpetuate  the  enslavement  of  the  black 
man.  "  Very  well,"  thought  I.  "  Knowledge  unfits  a 
child  to  be  a  slave."  I  instinctively  assented  to  the  pro- 
position, and  from  that  moment  I  understood  the  direct 
pathway  from  slavery  to  freedom.  It  was  just  what  I 
needed,  and  it  came  to  me  at  a  time  and  from  a  source 
whence  I  least  expected  it.  Of  course  I  was  greatly  sad- 
dened at  the  thought  of  losing  the  assistance  of  my  kind 
mistress,  but  the  information  so  instantly  derived  to  some 
extent  compensated  me  for  the  loss  I  had  sustained  in 
this  direction.  Wise  as  Mr.  Auld  was,  he  underrated  my 
comprehension,  and  had  little  idea  of  the  use  to  which  I 
was  capable  of  putting  the  impressive  lesson  he  was  giv- 

98  '        MASTER  Hugh's  exposition  of  slavery. 

ing  to  his  wife.  He  wanted  me  to  be  a  slave  ;  I  had  al- 
ready voted  against  that  on  the  home  plantation  of  Col. 
Lloyd.  That  which  he  most  loved  I  most  hated ;  and  the 
very  determination  which  he  expressed  to  keep  me  in  ig- 
norance only  rendered  me  the  more  resolute  to  seek  intel- 
ligence. In  learning  to  read,  therefore,  I  am  not  sure  that 
I  do  not  owe  quite  as  much  to  the  opposition  of  my  mas- 
ter as  to  the  kindly  assistance  of  my  amiable  mistress.  I 
acknowledge  the  benefit  rendered  me  by  the  one,  and  by 
the  other,  believing  that  but  for  my  mistress  I  might  have 
grown  up  in  ignorance. 



My  mistress — Her  slaveholding  duties — Their  effects  on  her  originally 
noble  nature — The  conflict  in  her  mind — She  opposes  my  learning  to 
read — Too  late — She  had  given  me  the  "inch,"  I  was  resolved  to 
take  the  "ell" — How  I  pursued  my  study  to  read — My  tutors — 
What  progress  I  made — Slavery — What  I  heard  said  about  it — Thir- 
teen years  old — Columbian  orator — Dialogue — Speeches — Sheridan 
— Pitt — Lords  Chatham  and  Fox — Knowledge  increasing — Liberty 
— Singing — Sadness — Unhappiness  of  Mrs.  Sophia — My  hatred  of 
slavery — One  Upas  tree  overshadows  us  all. 

I  LIVED  in  the  family  of  Mr.  Auld,  at  Baltimore,  seven 
years,  during  which  time,  as  the  almanac  makers  say 
of  the  weather,  my  condition  was  variable.  The  most  in- 
teresting feature  of  my  history  here  was  my  learning  to 
read  and  write  under  somewhat  marked  disadvantages. 
In  attaining  this  knowledge  I  was  compelled  to  resort  to 
indirections  by  no  means  congenial  to  my  nature,  and 
which  were  really  humiliating  to  my  sense  of  candor  and 
uprightness.  My  mistress,  checked  in  her  benevolent 
designs  toward  me,  not  only  ceased  instructing  me 
herself,  but  set  her  face  as  a  flint  against  my  learning  to 
read  by  any  means.  It  is  due  to  her  to  say,  however, 
that  she  did  not  adopt  this  course  in  all  its  stringency  at 
first.  She  either  thought  it  unnecessary,  or  she  lacked 
the  depravity  needed  to  make  herself  forget  at  once  my 
human  nature.  She  was,  as  I  have  said,  naturally  a  kind 
and  tender-hearted  woman,  and  in  the  humanity  of  her 
heart  and  the  simplicity  of  her  mind,  she  set  out,  when  I 
first  went  to  live  with  her,  to  treat  me  as  she  supposed 
one  human  being  ought  to  treat  another. 



Nature  never  intended  that  men  and  women  should  be 
citlier  slaves  or  slaveholders,  and  nothing  but  rigid  train- 
ing long  persisted  in,  can  perfect  the  character  of  the  one 
or  the  other. 

Mrs.  Auld  was  singularly  deficient  in  the  qualities  of  a 
slaveholder.  It  was  no  easy  matter  for  her  to  think  or 
to  feel  that  the  curly-headed  boy,  who  stood  by  her  side, 
and  even  leaned  on  her  lap,  wlio  was  loved  by  little  Tom- 
my, and  who  loved  little  Tommy  in  turn,  sustained  to  her 
only  the  relation  of  a  chattel.  I  was  more  than  that;  she 
felt  me  to  be  more  than  that.  I  could  talk  and  sing ;  I 
could  laugh  and  weep ;  I  could  reason  and  remember ;  I 
could  love  and  hate.  I  was  human,  and  she,  dear  lady, 
knew  and  felt  me  to  be  so.  How  could  she  then  treat  me 
as  a  brute  without  a  mighty  struggle  with  all  the  noblest 
powers  of  her  soul  ?  That  struggle  came,  and  the  will 
and  power  of  the  husband  were  victorious.  Her  noble 
soul  was  overcome,  and  he  who  wrought  the  wrong  was 
injured  in  the  fall  no  less  than  the  rest  of  the  household. 
When  I  went  into  that  household,  it  was  the  abode  of 
happiness  and  contentment.  The  wife  and  mistress  there 
was  a  model  of  affection  and  tenderness.  Her  fervent 
piety  and  watchful  uprightness  made  it  impossible  to  see 
her  without  thinking  and  feeling  "  that  woman  is  a  Chris- 
tian." There  was  no  sorrow  nor  suffering  for  which  she 
had  not  a  tear,  and  there  was  no  innocent  joy  for  which 
she  had  not  a  smile.  She  had  bread  for  the  hungry, 
clothes  for  the  naked,  and  comfort  for  every  mourner  who 
came  within  her  reach. 

But  slavery  soon  proved  its  ability  to  divest  her  of 
these  excellent  qualities,  and  her  home  of  its  early  happi- 
ness. Conscience  cannot  stand  much  violence.  Once 
thoroughly  injured,  who  is  he  who  can  repair  the  damage  ? 
If  it  be  broken  toward  the  slave  on  Sunday,  it  will  be 
toward  the  master  on  Monday.      It  cannot  long  endure 


such  shocks.  It  must  stand  unharmed,  or  it  does  not 
stand  at  all.  As  my  condition  in  the  family  waxed  bad, 
that  of  the  family  waxed  no  better.  The  first  step  in  the 
wrong  direction  was  the  violence  done  to  nature  and  to 
conscience  in  arresting  the  benevolence  that  would  have 
enlightened  my  young  mind.  In  ceasing  to  instruct  me, 
my  mistress  had  to  seek  to  justify  herself  to  lierself,  and 
once  consenting  to  take  sides  in  such  a  debate,  she  was 
compelled  to  hold  her  position.  One  needs  little  knowl- 
edge of  moral  philosophy  to  see  where  she  inevitably 
landed.  She  finally  became  even  more  violent  in  her 
opposition  to  my  learning  to  read  than  was  Mr.  Auld 
liimself.  Nothing  now  appeared  to  make  her  more  angry 
than  seeing  me,  seated  in  some  nook  or  corner,  quietly 
reading  a  book  or  newspaper.  She  would  rush  at  me 
with  the  utmost  fury,  and  snatch  the  book  or  paper  from 
my  hand,  with  something  of  the  wrath  and  consternation 
which  a  traitor  might  be  supposed  to  feel  on  being  dis- 
covered in  a  plot  by  some  dangerous  spy.  The  conviction 
once  thoroughly  established  in  her  mind,  that  education 
and  slavery  were  incompatible  with  each  other,  I  was 
most  narrowly  watched  in  all  my  movements.  If  I  re- 
mained in  a  separate  room  from  the  family  for  any  con- 
siderable length  of  time,  I  was  sure  to  be  suspected  of 
having  a  book,  and  was  at  once  called  to  give  an  account 
of  myself.  But  this  was  too  late :  the  first  and  never-to- 
be-retraced  step  had  been  taken.  Teaching  me  the 
alphabet  had  been  the  "inch"  given,  I  was  now  waiting 
only  for  the  opportunity  to  "  take  the  ell." 

Filled  with  the  determination  to  learn  to  read  at  any 
cost,  I  hit  upon  many  expedients  to  accomplish  that  much 
desired  end.  The  plan  which  I  mainly  adopted,  and  the 
one  which  was  the  most  successful,  was  that  of  using  my 
young  white  playmates,  with  whom  I  met  on  the  streets, 
as  teachers.     I  used  to  carry  almost  constantly  a  copy  of 

102  HE   IS   THIRTEEN    YEARS   OLD. 

Webster's  spelling-book  in  my  pocket,  and  when  sent  of 
errands,  or  when  play-time  was  allowed  me,  I  would  step 
aside  with  my  young  friends  and  take  a  lesson  in  spelling. 
I  am  greatly  indebted  to  these  boys — Gustavus  Dorgan, 
Joseph  Bailey,  Charles  Farity,  and  William  Cosdry. 

Although  slavery  was  a  delicate  subject,  and  very  cau- 
tiously talked  about  among  grown  up  people  in  Maryland, 
I  frequently  talked  about  it,  and  that  very  freely,  with 
the  white  boys.  I  would  sometimes  say  to  them,  while 
seated  on  a  curbstone  or  a  cellar  door,  "I  wish  I  could  be 
free,  as  you  will  be  when  you  get  to  be  men."  "  You  will 
be  free,  you  know,  as  soon  as  you  are  twenty-one,  and  can 
go  where  you  like,  but  I  am  a  slave  for  life.  Have  I  not 
as  good  aright  to  be  free  as  you  have?"  Words  like 
these,  I  observed,  always  troubled  them ;  and  I  had  no 
small  satisfaction  in  drawing  out  from  them,  as  I  occa- 
sionally did,  that  fresh  and  bitter  condemnation  of 
slavery  which  ever  springs  from  nature  unseared  and 
unperverted.  Of  all  conscience,  let  me  have  those  to 
deal  with,  which  have  not  been  seared  and  bewildered 
with  the  cares  and  perplexities  of  life.  I  do  not  remem- 
ber ever  to  have  met  with  a  hoy  while  I  was  in  slavery, 
who  defended  the  system,  but  I  do  remember  many  times, 
when  I  was  consoled  by  them,  and  by  them  encouraged 
to  hope  that  something  would  yet  occur  by  which  I  would 
be  made  free.  Over  and  over  again,  they  have  told  me 
that  "  they  believed  I  had  as  good  a  right  to  be  free  as 
they  had,"  and  that  "  they  did  not  believe  God  ever  made 
any  one  to  be  a  slave."  It  is  easily  seen  that  such  little 
conversations  with  my  playfellows  had  no  tendency  to 
weaken  my  love  of  liberty,  nor  to  render  me  contented  as 
a  slave. 

When  I  was  about  tliirteen  years  old,  and  had  suc- 
ceeded in  learning  to  read,  every  increase  of  knowledge, 
especially  anything  respecting  the   free   states,  was   an 


additional  weight  to  the  almost  intolerable  burden  of  my 
thought — "  I  am  a  slave  for  life^  -  To  my  bondage  I 
could  see  no  end.  It  was  a  terrible  reality,  and  I  shall 
never  be  able  to  tell  how  sadly  that  thought  chafed  my 
young  spirit.  Fortunately,  or  unfortunately,  I  had  earned 
a  little  money  in  blacking  boots  for  some  gentlemen,  with 
which  I  purchased  of  Mr.  Knight,  on  Thames  street,  what 
was  then  a  very  popular  school  book,  viz.,  "  The  Colum- 
bian Orator,"  for  which  I  paid  fifty  cents.  I  was  led  to 
buy  this  book  by  hearing  some  little  boys  say  they  were 
going  to  learn  some  pieces  out  of  it  for  the  exhibition. 
This  volume  was  indeed  a  rich  treasure,  and  every  oppor- 
tunity afforded  me,  for  a  time,  was  spent  in  diligently 
perusing  it.  Among  much  other  interesting  matter,  that 
which  I  read  again  and  again  with  unflagging  satisfaction 
was  a  short  dialogue  between  a  master  and  his  slave. 
The  slave  is  represented  as  having  been  recaptured  in  a 
second  attempt  to  run  away ;  and  the  master  opens  the 
dialogue  with  an  upbraiding  speech,  charging  the  slave 
with  ingratitude,  and  demanding  to  know  what  he  has  to 
say  in  his  own  defense.  Thus  upbraided  and  thus  called 
upon  to  reply,  the  slave  rejoins  that  he  knows  how  little 
anything  that  he  can  say  will  avail,  seeing  that  he  is 
completely  in  the  hands  of  his  owner;  and  with  noble 
resolution,  calmly  says,  "  I  submit  to  my  fate."  Touched 
by  the  slave's  answer,  the  master  insists  upon  his  further 
speaking,  and  recapitulates  the  many  acts  of  kindness 
which  he  has  performed  toward  the  slave,  and  tells  him 
he  is  permitted  to  speak  for  himself.  Thus  invited,  the 
quondam  slave  made  a  spirited  defense  of  himself,  and 
thereafter  the  whole  argument  for  and  against  slavery  is 
brought  out.  The  master  was  vanquished  at  every  turn 
in  the  argument,  and  appreciating  the  fact  he  generously 
and  meekly  emancipates  the  slave,  with  his  best  wishes 
for  his  prosperity. 

104  BOOKS   HE   READ. 

It  is  unnecessary  to  say  that  a  dialogue  with  such 
an  origin  and  such  an  end,  read  by  me  when  every  nerve 
of  my  being  was  in  revolt  at  my  own  condition  as  a  slave, 
affected  me  most  powerfully.  I  could  not  help  feeling 
that  the  day  might  yet  come  when  the  well-directed 
answers  made  by  the  slave  to  the  master,  in  this  instance, 
would  find  a  counterpart  in  my  own  experience.  This, 
however,  was  not  all  the  fanaticism  which  I  found  in  the 
Columbian  Orator.  I  met  there  one  of  Sheridan's  mighty 
speeches  on  the  subject  of  Catholic  Emancipation,  Lord 
Chatham's  speech  on  the  American  War,  and  speeches  by 
the  great  William  Pitt,  and  by  Fox.  These  were  all 
choice  documents  to  me,  and  I  read  them  over  and  over 
again,  with  an  interest  ever  increasing,  because  it  was 
ever  gaining  in  intelligence ;  for  the  more  I  read  them 
the  better  I  understood  tliem.  The  reading  of  these 
speeches  added  much  to  my  limited  stock  of  language, 
and  enabled  me  to  give  tongue  to  many  interesting 
thoughts  which  had  often  flashed  through  my  mind  and 
died  away  for  want  of  words  in  which  to  give  them  utter- 
ance. The  mighty  power  and  heart-searching  directness 
of  truth  penetrating  the  heart  of  a  slave-holder,  compelling 
him  to  yield  up  his  earthly  interests  to  the  claims  of  eter- 
nal justice,  were  finely  illustrated  in  the  dialogue,  and 
from  the  speeches  of  Sheridan  I  got  a  bold  and  powerful 
denunciation  of  oppression  and  a  most  brilliant  vindica- 
tion of  the  rights  of  man. 

Here  was  indeed  a  noble  acquisition.  If  I  had  ever 
wavered  under  the  consideration  that  the  Almighty,  in 
some  way,  had  ordained  slavery  and  willed  my  enslave- 
ment for  His  own  glory,  I  wavered  no  longer.  I  had  now 
penetrated  to  the  secret  of  all  slavery  and  all  oppression, 
and  had  ascertained  their  true  foundation  to  be  in  the 
pride,  the  power,  and  the  avarice  of  man.  With  a  book 
in  my  hand  so  redolent  of  the  principles  of  liberty,  with  a 

master's  predictions  verified.  105 

perception  of  my  own  human  nature  and  the  facts  of  my 
past  and  present  experience,  I  was  equal  to  a  contest  with 
the  religious  advocates  of  slavery,  whether  white  or  black, 
for  blindness  in  this  matter  was  not  confined  to  the  white 
people.  I  have  met  many  good,  religious  colored  people 
at  the  south,  who  were  under  the  delusion  that  God  re- 
quired them  to  submit  to  slavery  and  to  wear  their  chains 
with  meekness  and  humility.  I  could  entertain  no  such 
nonsense  as  this,  and  I  quite  lost  my  patience  when  I 
found  a  colored  man  weak  enough  to  believe  such  stuff. 
Nevertheless,  eager  as  I  was  to  partake  of  the  tree  of 
knowledge,  its  fruits  were  bitter  as  well  as  sweet. 
"  Slaveholders,"  thought  I,  "  are  only  a  band  of  success- 
ful robbers,  who,  leaving  their  own  homes,  went  into 
Africa  for  the  purpose  of  stealing  and  reducing  my  people 
to  slavery."  I  loathed  them  as  the  meanest  and  the  most 
wicked  of  men.  And  as  I  read,  behold !  the  very  discon- 
tent so  graphically  predicted  by  Master  Hugh  had  already 
come  upon  me.  I  was  no  longer  the  light-hearted,  glee- 
some  boy,  full  of  mirth  and  play,  as  when  I  landed  in 
Baltimore.  Light  had  penetrated  the  moral  dungeon 
where  I  had  lain,  and  I  saw  the  bloody  whip  for  my  back, 
and  the  iron  chain  for  my  feet,  and  my  good^  kind  master, 
he  was  the  author  of  my  situation.  The  revelation 
haunted  me,  stung  me,  and  made  me  gloomy  and  miser- 
able. As  I  writhed  under. the  sting  and  torment  of  this 
knowledge  I  almost  envied  my  fellow  slaves  their  stupid 
indifference.  It  opened  my  eyes  to  the  horrible  pit,  and 
revealed  the  teeth  of  the  frightful  dragon  that  was  ready 
to  pounce  upon  me ;  but  alas,  it  opened  no  way  for  my 
escape.  I  wished  myself  a  beast,  a  bird,  anything  rather 
than  a  slave.  I  was  wretched  and  gloomy  beyond  my 
ability  to  describe.  This  everlasting  thinking  distressed 
and  tormented  me ;  and  yet  there  was  no  getting  rid  of 
this  subject  of  my  thoughts.  Liberty,  as  the  inestimable 



Abolitionists  spoken  of — Eagerness  to  know  the  meaning  of  word — 
Consults  the  dictionary  —  Incendiary  information  —  The  enigma 
solved — "Nat  Turner"  insurrection  —  Cholera — Religion — Metho- 
dist minister — Religious  impressions — Father  Lawson — His  char- 
acter and  occupation  —  His  influence  over  me  —  Our  mutual  attach- 
ment—  New  hopes  and  aspirations  —  Heavenly  light — Two  Irishmen 
on  wharf — Conversation  with  them  —  Learning  to  write  —  My 

IN  the  unhappy  state  of  mind  described  in  the  fore- 
going chapter,  regretting  my  very  existence  because 
doomed  to  a  life  of  bondage,  so  goaded  and  so  wretched 
as  to  be  even  tempted  at  times  to  take  my  own  life,  I  was 
most  keenly  sensitive  to  know  any  and  everything  pos- 
sible that  had  any  relation  to  the  subject  of  slavery.  I 
was  all  ears,  all  eyes,  whenever  the  words  slave  or  slavery 
dropped  from  the  lips  of  any  white  person,  and  the  occa- 
sions became  more  and  more  frequent  when  these  words 
became  leading  ones  in  high,  social  debate  at  our  house. 
Very  often  I  would  overhear  Master  Hugh,  or  some  of 
his  company,  speak  with  much  warmth  of  the  "  aholition- 
ists.^^  Who  or  what  the  abolitionists  were,  I  was  totally 
ignorant.  I  found,  however,  that  whoever  or  whatever 
they  might  be,  they  were  most  cordinally  hated  and 
abused  by  slaveholders  of  every  grade.  I  very  soon  dis- 
covered too,  that  slavery  was,  in  some  sort,  under  consid- 
eration whenever  the  abolitionists  were  alluded  to.  This 
made  the  term  a  very  interesting  one  to  me.  If  a  slave 
had  made  good  his  escape  from  slavery,  it  was  generally 
alleged  that  he  had  been  persuaded  and  assisted  to  do  so 



by  the  abolitionists.  If  a  slave  killed  his  master,  or 
struck  down  his  overseer,  or  set  fire  to  his  master's  dwell- 
ing, or  committed  any  violence  or  crime,  out  of  the  com- 
mon way,  it  was  certain  to  be  said  that  such  a  crime  was 
the  legitimate  fruits  of  the  abolition  movement.  Hearing 
such  charges  often  repeated,  I,  naturally  enough,  received 
the  impression  that  abolition  —  whatever  else  it  might  be 
—  was  not  unfriendly  to  the  slave,  nor  very  friendly  to 
the  slaveholder.  I  therefore  set  about  finding  out,  if  pos- 
sible, who  and  what  the  abolitionists  were,  and  why  they 
were  so  obnoxious  to  the  slaveholders.  The  dictionary 
offered  me  very  little  help.  It  taught  me  that  abolition 
was  "  the  act  of  abolishing ; "  but  it  left  me  in  ignorance 
at  the  very  point  where  I  most  wanted  information,  and 
that  was,  as  to  the  thing  to  be  abolished.  A  city  news- 
paper —  the  "  Baltimore  American  "  —  gave  me  the  in- 
cendiary information  denied  me  by  the  dictionary.  In  its 
columns  I  found  that  on  a  certain  day  a  vast  number  of 
petitions  and  memorials  had  been  presented  to  Congress, 
praying  for  the  abolition  of  slavery  in  the  District  of 
Columbia,  and  for  the  abolition  of  the  slave  trade  between 
the  States  of  the  Union.  This  was  enough.  The  vindic- 
tive bitterness,  the  marked  caution,  the  studied  reserve, 
and  the  ambiguity  practiced  by  our  white  folks  when 
alluding  to  this  subject,  was  now  fully  explained.  Ever 
after  that,  when  I  heard  the  word  abolition,  I  felt  the 
matter  one  of  a  personal  concern,  and  I  drew  near  to 
listen  whenever  I  could  do  so,  without  seeming  too  solici- 
tous and  prying.  There  was  HOPE  in  those  words.  Ever 
and  anon  too,  I  could  see  some  terrible  denunciation  of 
slavery  in  our  papers, —  copied  from  abolition  papers  at 
the  North, — and  the  injustice  of  such  denunciation  com- 
mented on.  These  I  read  with  avidity.  I  had  a  deep 
satisfaction  in  the  thought  that  the  rascality  of  slave- 
holders w^as  not  concealed  from  the  eyes  of  the  world,  and 


that  I  was  not  alone  in  abhorring  the  cruelty  and  brutality 
of  slavery.  A  still  deeper  train  of  thought  was  stirred.  I 
saw  that  there  was  fear  as  well  as  rage  in  the  manner 
of  speaking  of  the  abolitionists,  and  from  this  I  inferred 
that  they  must  have  some  power  in  the  country,  and  I 
felt  that  they  might  perhaps  succeed  in  their  designs. 
Wlien  I  met  with  a  slave  to  whom  I  deemed  it  safe  to 
talk  on  the  subject,  I  would  impart  to  him  so  much  of  the 
mystery  as  I  had  been  able  to  penetrate.  Thus  the  light 
of  this  grand  movement  broke  in  upon  my  mind  by  de- 
grees ;  and  I  must  say  that  ignorant  as  I  was  of  the  phi- 
losophy of  that  movement,  1  believed  in  it  from  the  first, 
and  I  believed  in  it,  partly,  because  I  saw  that  it  alarmed 
the  consciences  of  the  slaveholders.  The  insurrection  of 
Nat.  Turner  had  been  quelled,  but  the  alarm  and  terror 
which  it  occasioned  had  not  subsided.  The  cholera  was 
then  on  its  way  to  this  country,  and  I  remember  thinking 
that  God  was  angry  with  the  white  people  because  of 
their  slaveholding  wickedness,  and  therefore  his  judg- 
ments were  abroad  in  the  land.  Of  course  it  was  impos- 
sible for  me  not  to  hope  much  for  the  abolition  movement 
when  I  saw  it  supported  by  tlie  Almighty,  and  armed 

with  DEATH. 

Previously  to  my  contemplation  of  the  anti-slavery  move- 
ment and  its  probable  results,  my  mind  had  been  seriously 
awakened  to  the  subject  of  religion.  I  was  not  more 
than  thirteen  years  old,  when  in  my  loneliness  and  desti- 
tution I  longed  for  some  one  to  whom  I  could  go,  as  to  a 
father  and  protector.  The  preaching  of  a  white  Metho- 
dist minister,  named  Hanson,  was  the  means  of  causing 
me  to  feel  that  in  God  I  had  such  a  friend.  He  thought 
that  all  men,  great  and  small,  bond  and  free,  were  sinners 
in  the  sight  of  God :  that  they  were  by  nature  rebels 
against  his  government ;  and  that  they  must  repent  of 
their  sins,  and  be  reconciled  to  God  through  Christ.     I 


cannot  say  that  I  liad  a  very  distinct  notion  of  what 
was  required  of  me,  but  one  thing  I  did  know  well :  I  was 
wretched  and  had  no  means  of  making  myself  otherwise. 
I  consulted  a  good  colored  man  named  Charles  Lawson, 
and  in  tones  of  holy  affection  he  told  me  to  pray,  and  to 
"  cast  all  my  care  upon  God."  This  I  sought  to  do ;  and 
though  for  weeks  I  was  a  poor,  broken-hearted  mourner, 
traveling  through  doubts  and  fears,  I  finally  found  my 
burden  lightened,  and  my  heart  relieved.  I  loved  all 
mankind,  slaveholders  not  excepted,  though  I  abhorred 
slavery  more  than  ever.  I  saw  the  world  in  a  new  light, 
and  my  great  concern  was  to  have  everybody  converted. 
My  desire  to  learn  increased,  and  especially  did  I  want  a 
thorough  acquaintance  with  the  contents  of  the  Bible.  I 
have  gathered  scattered  pages  of  the  Bible  from  the  filthy 
street-gutters,  and  washed  and  dried  them,  that  in  mo- 
ments of  leisure  I  might  get  a  word  or  two  of  wisdom  from 
them.  While  thus  religiously  seeking  knowledge,  I  be- 
came acquainted  with  a  good  old  colored  man  named  Law- 
son.  This  man  not  only  prayed  three  times  a  day,  but  he 
prayed  as  he  walked  through  the  streets,  at  his  work,  on 
his  dray  —  everywhere.  His  life  was  a  life  of  prayer,  and 
his  words  when  he  spoke  to  any  one,  were  about  a  better 
world.  Uncle  Lawson  lived  near  Master  Hugh's  house, 
and  becoming  deeply  attached  to  him,  I  went  often  with 
him  to  prayer-meeting,  and  spent  much  of  my  leisure  time 
with  him  on  Sunday.  The  old  man  could  read  a  little, 
and  I  was  a  great  help  to  him  in  making  out  the  hard 
words,  for  I  was  a  better  reader  than  he.  I  could  teach 
him  "  the  letter,"  but  he  could  teach  me  "  the  spirit,"  and 
refreshing  times  we  had  together,  in  singing  and  praying. 
These  meetings  went  on  for  a  long  time  without  the 
knowledge  of  Master  Hugh  or  my  mistress.  Both  knew, 
however,  that  I  had  become  religious,  and  seemed  to 
respect  my  conscientious  piety.     My  mistress  was  still  a 

112  HIS   GOOD    ADVICE. 

professor  of  religion,  and  belonged  to  class.  Her  leader 
was  no  less  a  person  than  Rev.  Beverly  Waiigli,  the  pre- 
siding elder,  and  afterwards  one  of  the  bishops  of  the 
Methodist  Episcopal  church. 

In  view  of  the  cares  and  anxieties  incident  to  the  life 
she  was  leading,  and  especially  in  view  of  the  separation 
from  religious  associations  to  which  she  was  subjected, 
my  mistress  had,  as  I  have  before  stated,  become  luke- 
warm, and  needed  to  be  looked  up  by  her  leader.  This 
often  brought  Mr.  Waugh  to  our  house,  and  gave  me  an 
opportunity  to  hear  him  exhort  and  pray.  But  my  chief 
instructor  in  religious  matters  was  Uncle  Lawson.  He 
was  my  spiritual  father  and  I  loved  him  intensely,  and 
was  at  his  house  every  chance  I  could  get.  This  pleasure, 
however,  was  not  long  unquestioned.  Master  Hugh 
became  averse  to  our  intimacy,  and  threatened  to  whip 
me  if  I  ever  went  there  again.  I  now  felt  myself  perse- 
cuted by  a  wicked  man,  and  I  would  go.  The  good  old 
man  had  told  me  that  the  "  Lord  had  great  work  for  me 
to  do,"  and  I  must  prepare  to  do  it ;  that  he  had  been 
shown  that  I  must  preach  the  gospel.  His  words  made 
a  very  deep  impression  upon  me,  and  I  verily  felt  that 
some  such  work  was  before  me,  though  I  could  not  see 
how  I  could  ever  engage  in  its  performance.  "  The  good 
Lord  would  bring  it  to  pass  in  his  own  good  time,"  he 
said,  and  that  I  must  go  on  reading  and  studying  the 
Scriptures.  This  advice  and  these  suggestions  were  not 
without  their  influence  on  my  character  and  destiny. 
He  fanned  my  already  intense  love  of  knowledge  into  a 
flame  by  assuring  me  that  I  was  to  be  a  useful  man  in  the 
world.  When  I  would  say  to  him,  "  How  can  these 
things  be  ?  and  what  can  I  do  ? "  his  simple  reply  was, 
"  Trust  in  the  LordP  When  I  would  tell  him,  "I  am  a 
slave,  and  a  slave  for  life,  how  can  I  do  anything  ?  "  he 
would  quietly  answer,  "  The  Lord  can  make  you  free,  my 


dear;  all  things  are  possible  with  Him;  only  have /a^^^ 
in  God.  *  Ask,  and  it  shall  be  given  you.'  If  you  want 
liberty,  ask  the  Lord  for  it  in  faith,  and  He  will  give  it  to 

Thus  assured  and  thus  cheered  on  under  the  inspiration 
of  hope,  I  worked  and  prayed  with  a  light  heart,  believing 
that  my  life  was  under  the  guidance  of  a  wisdom  higher 
than  my  own.  With  all  other  blessings  sought  at  the 
mercy  seat,  I  always  prayed  that  God  would,  of  His  great 
mercy,  and  in  His  own  good  time,  deliver  me  from  my 

I  went,  one  day,  on  the  wharf  of  Mr.  Waters,  and  see- 
ing two  Irishmen  unloading  a  scow  of  stone  or  ballast,  I 
went  on  board  unasked,  and  helped  them.  When  we  had 
finished  the  work  one  of  the  men  came  to  me,  aside,  and 
asked  me  a  number  of  questions,  and  among  them  if  I 
were  a  slave  ?  I  told  him  "  I  was  a  slave  for  life."  The 
good  Irishman  gave  a  slirug,  and  seemed  deeply  affected. 
He  said  it  was  a  pity  so  fine  a  little  fellow  as  I  was  should 
be  a  slave  for  life.  They  both  had  much  to  say  about  the 
matter,  and  expressed  the  deepest  sympathy  with  me,  and 
the  most  decided  hatred  of  slavery.  They  went  so  far  as 
to  tell  me  that  I  ought  to  run  away  and  go  to  the  north ; 
that  I  should  find  friends  there,  and  that  I  should  then 
be  as  free  as  anybody.  I  pretended  not  to  be  interested  in 
what  they  said,  for  I  feared  they  might  be  treacherous. 
White  men  were  not  unfrequently  known  to  encourage 
slaves  to  escape,  and  then,  to  get  the  reward,  they  would 
kidnap  them  and  return  them  to  their  masters.  While 
I  mainly  inclined  to  the  notion  that  these  men  were 
honest  and  meant  me  no  ill,  I  feared  it  might  be  other- 
wise. I  nevertheless  remembered  their  words  and  their 
advice,  and  looked  forward  to  an  escape  to  the  north  as  a 
possible  means  of  gaining  the  liberty  for  which  my  heart 
panted.     It  was  not  my  enslavement  at  the  then  present 


time  which  most  afTectcd  me ;  the  being  a  slave  for  life 
was  the  saddest  thought.  I  was  too  young  to  think  of 
running  away  immediately  ;  besides,  I  wished  to  learn  to 
write  before  going,  as  I  might  have  occasion  to  write  my 
own  pass.  I  now  not  only  had  the  hope  of  freedom,  but 
a  foreshadowing  of  the  means  by  which  I  might  some 
day  gain  that  inestimable  boon.  Meanwhile  I  resolved 
to  add  to  my  educational  attainments  the  art  of  writing. 

After  this  manner  I  began  to  learn  to  write.  I  was 
much  in  the  ship-yard — Master  Hugh's,  and  that  of 
Durgan  k  Bailey,  and  I  observed  that  the  carpenters, 
after  hewing  and  getting  ready  a  piece  of  timber  to  use, 
wrote  on  it  the  initials  of  the  name  of  that  part  of  the 
ship  for  which  it  was  intended.  When,  for  instance,  a 
piece  of  timber  was  ready  for  the  starboard  side,  it  was 
marked  with  a  capital  "  S."  A  piece  for  the  larboard 
side  was  marked  "  L." ;  larboard  forward  was  marked 
"L.  F. ;"  larboard  aft  was  marked  "L.  A.";  starboard 
aft,  "  S.  A." ;  and  starboard  forward,  "  S.  F."  I  soon 
learned  these  letters,  and  for  what  they  were  placed  on 
the  timbers. 

My  work  now  was  to  keep  fire  under  the  steam-box, 
and  to  watch  the  ship-yard  while  the  carpenters  had 
gone  to  dinner.  This  interval  gave  me  a  fine  opportunity 
for  copying  the  letters  named.  I  soon  astonished  myself 
with  the  ease  with  which  I  made  the  letters,  and  the 
thought  was  soon  present,  "  If  I  can  make  four  letters  I 
can  make  more."  Having  made  these  readily  and  easily, 
when  I  met  boys  about  the  Bethel  church  or  on  any  of 
our  play-grounds,  I  entered  the  lists  with  them  in  the  art 
of  writing,  and  would  make  the  letters  which  I  had  been 
so  fortunate  as  to  learn,  and  ask  them  to  "  beat  that  if  they 
could."  With  play-mates  for  my  teachers,  fences  and 
pavements  for  my  copy-books,  and  chalk  for  my  pen  and 
ink,  I  learned  to  write.     I  however  adopted,  afterward, 


various  methods  for  improving  my  hand.     The  most  suc- 
cessful was  copying  the  italics  in  Webster's  spelling-book 
until  I  could  make  them  all  without  looking  on  the  book. 
By  this  time  my  little  "  Master  Tommy'*  had  grown  to  be 
a  big  boy,  and  had  written  over  a  number  of  copy-books 
and  brought  them  home.     They  had   been  shown  to  the 
neighbors,  had  elicited  due  praise,  and  had  been  laid  care- 
fully away.     Spending  parts  of  my  time  both  at  the  ship- 
yard and  the  house,  I  was  often  the  lone  keeper  of  the 
latter  as  of  the  former.     When  my  mistress  left  me  in 
charge  of  the  house  I  had  a  grand  time.     I  got  Master 
Tommy's  copy-books  and  a  pen  and  ink,  and  in  the  ample 
spaces  between  the  lines  I  wrote  other  lines  as  nearly  like 
his  as  possible.     The  process  was  a  tedious  one,  and  I 
ran  the  risk  of  getting  a  flogging  for  marking  the  highly- 
prized  copy-books  of  the  oldest  son.     In  addition  to  these 
opportunities,  sleeping  as  I  did  in  the  kitchen  loft,  a  room 
seldom  visited  by  any  of  the  family,  I  contrived  to  get  a 
flour-barrel  up  there  and  a  chair,  and  upon  the  head  of 
that  barrel  I  have  written,  or  endeavored  to  write,  copy- 
ing from  the  Bible  and  the  Methodist  hymn-book,  and 
other  books  which  I  had  accumulated,  till  late  at  night, 
and  when  all  the  family  were  in  bed  and  asleep.     I  was 
supported  in  my  endeavors  by  renewed  advice  and  by 
holy  promises  from  the  good  father  Lawson,  with  whom 
1  continued  to  meet  and  pray  and  read  the  Scriptures. 
Although  Master  Hugh  was  aware  of  these  meetings,  I 
must  say  for  his  credit  that  he  never  executed  his  threats 
to  whip  me  for    having  thus  innocently  employed  my 
leisure  time. 



Death  of  old  Master's  son  Richard  speedily  followed  by  that  of  old 
Master  —  Valuation  and  division  of  all  the  property,  including  the 
slaves  —  Sent  for  to  come  to  Hillsborough  to  be  valued  and  divided 
—  Sad  prospects  and  grief  —  Parting  —  Slaves  have  no  voice  in 
deciding  their  own  destinies  —  General  dread  of  falling  into  Master 
Andrew's  hands  —  His  drunkenness  —  Good  fortune  in  falling  to 
Miss  Lucretia  —  She  allows  my  return  to  Baltimore  —  Joy  at  Master 
Hugh's  —  Death  of  Miss  Lucretia  —  Master  Thomas  Auld's  second 
marriage  —  The  new  wife  unlike  the  old  —  Again  removed  from 
Master  Hugh's  —  Reasons  for  regret  —  Plan  of  escape. 

I  MUST  now  ask  the  reader  to  go  back  with  me  a 
little  in  point  of  time,  in  my  humble  story,  and 
notice  another  circumstance  that  entered  into  my  slavery 
experience,  and  which,  doubtless,  has  had  a  share  in 
deepening  my  horror  of  slavery,  and  my  hostility  toward 
those  men  and  measures  that  practically  uphold  the  slave 

It  has  already  been  observed  that  though  I  was,  after 
my  removal  from  Col.  Lloyd's  plantation,  in  form  the 
slave  of  Master  Hugh  Auld,  I  was  in  fact  and  in  law  tlie 
slave  of  my  old  master,  Capt.  Anthony.  Very  well.  In 
a  very  short  time  after  I  went  to  Baltimore  my  old 
master's  youngest  son,  Richard,  died ;  and  in  three  years 
and  six  months  after  my  old  master  himself  died,  leaving 
only  his  daughter  Lucretia  and  his  son  Andrew  to  share 
the  estate.  The  old  man  died  wliile  on  a  visit  to  his 
daughter  in  Hillsborough,  where  Capt.  Auld  and  Mrs. 
Lucretia  now  lived,  Master  Thomas  having  given  up  the 



command  of  Col.  Lloyd's  sloop  and  was  now  keeping 
store  in  that  town. 

Cut  off  thus  unexpectedly,  Capt.  Anthony  died  intes- 
tate, and  his  property  must  be  equally  divided  between 
his  two  children,  Andrew  and  Lucretia. 

The  valuation  and  division  of  slaves  among  contending 
heirs  was  a  most  important  incident  in  slave  life.  The 
characters  and  tendencies  of  the  heirs  were  generally  well 
understood  by  tlie  slaves  who  were  to  be  divided,  and  all 
had  their  aversions  and  their  preferences.  But  neither 
their  aversions  nor  their  preferences  availed  anything. 

On  the  death  of  old  master  I  was  immediately  sent  for 
to  be  valued  and  divided  with  the  other  property.  Per- 
sonally, my  concern  was  mainly  about  my  possible  re- 
moval from  the  home  of  Master  Hugh,  for  up  to  this  time 
there  had  no  dark  clouds  arisen  to  darken  the  sky  of  that 
happy  abode.  It  was  a  sad  day  to  me  when  I  left  for  the 
Eastern  Shore,  to  be  valued  and  divided,  as  it  was  for  my 
dear  mistress  and  teacher,  and  for  little  Tommy.  We  all 
three  wept  bitterly,  for  we  were  parting,  and  it  might  be 
we  were  parting  forever.  No  one  could  tell  amongst 
which  pile  of  chattels  I  might  be  flung.  Thus  early,  I 
got  a  foretaste  of  that  painful  uncertainty  which  in  one 
form  or  another  was  ever  obtruding  itself  in  the  pathway 
of  the  slave.  It  furnished  me  a  new  insight  into  the 
unnatural  power  to  which  I  was  subjected.  Sickness, 
adversity,  and  death  may  interfere  with  the  plans  and 
purposes  of  all,  but  the  slave  had  the  added  danger  of 
changing  homes,  in  the  separations  unknown  to  other 
men.  Then,  too,  there  was  the  intensified  degradation  of 
the  spectacle.  What  an  assemblage !  Men  and  women, 
young  and  old,  married  and  single ;  moral  and  thinking 
human  beings,  in  open  contempt  of  their  humanity ,  leveled 
at  a  blow  with  horses,  sheep,  horned  cattle,  and  swine. 
Horses  and  men,  cattle  and  women,  pigs  and  children  — 


all  holding  the  same  rank  in  the  scale  of  social  existence, 
and  all  subjected  to  the  same  narrow  inspection,  to  ascer- 
tain their  value  in  gold  and  silver  —  the  only  standard  of 
worth  applied  by  slaveholders  to  their  slaves.  Personality 
swallowed  up  in  the  sordid  idea  of  property !  Manhood 
lost  in  chattelhood ! 

The  valuation  over,  then  came  the  division  and  appor- 
tionment. Our  destiny  was  to  be  fixed  for  life^  and  we 
had  no  more  voice  in  the  decision  of  the  question  than 
the  oxen  and  cows  that  stood  chewing  at  the  hay-mow. 
One  word  of  the  appraisers,  against  all  preferences  and 
prayers,  could  sunder  all  the  ties  of  friendship  and  affec- 
tion, even  to  separating  husbands  and  wives,  parents  and 
children.  We  were  all  appalled  before  that  power  which, 
to  human  seeming,  could  bless  or  blast  us  in  a  moment. 
Added  to  this  dread  of  separation,  most  painful  to  the 
majority  of  the  slaves,  we  all  had  a  decided  horror  of 
falling  into  the  hands  of  Master  Andrew,  who  was  dis- 
tinguished for  his  cruelty  and  intemperance. 

Slaves  had  a  great  dread,  very  naturally,  of  falling  into 
the  hands  of  drunken  owners.  Master  Andrew  was  a 
confirmed  sot,  and  had  already  by  his  profligate  dissipa- 
tion wasted  a  large  portion  of  his  father's  property.  To 
fall  into  his  hands,  therefore,  was  considered  as  the  first 
step  toward  being  sold  away  to  the  far  South.  He  would 
no  doubt  spend  his  fortune  in  a  few  years,  it  was  thought, 
and  his  farms  and  slaves  would  be  sold  at  public  auction, 
and  the  slaves  hurried  away  to  the  cotton-fields  and  rice- 
swamps  of  the  burning  South.  This  was  cause  of  deep 

The  people  of  the  North,  and  free  people  generally,  I 
think,  have  less  attachment  to  the  places  where  they  are 
born  and  brought  up  than  had  the  slaves.  Their  freedom 
to  come  and  go,  to  be  here  or  there,  as  they  list,  prevents 
any  extravagant  attachment  to  any  one  particular  place. 

plummer's  rule  on  their  backs.  119 

On  the  other  hand,  the  slave  was  a  fixture ;  ho  had  no 
choice,  no  goal,  but  was  pegged  down  to  one  single  spot, 
and  must  take  root  there  or  nowhere.  The  idea  of  re- 
moval elsewhere  came  generally  in  shape  of  a  threat,  and 
in  punishment  for  crime.  It  was  therefore  attended  with 
fear  and  dread.  The  enthusiasm  which  animates  the 
bosoms  of  young  freemen,  when  they  contemplate  a  life 
in  the  far  West,  or  in  some  distant  country,  where  they 
expect  to  rise  to  wealth  and  distinction,  could  have  no 
place  in  the  thought  of  the  slave ;  nor  could  those  from 
whom  they  separated  know  anything  of  that  cheerfulness 
with  which  friends  and  relations  yield  each  other  up, 
when  they  feel  that  it  is  for  the  good  of  the  departing  one 
that  he  is  removed  from  his  native  place.  Then,  too, 
there  is  correspondence  and  the  hope  of  reunion,  but  with 
the  slaves  all  these  mitigating  circumstances  were  want- 
ing. There  was  no  improvement  in  condition  probable  — 
no  correspondence  possible  —  no  reunion  attainable.  His 
going  out  into  the  world  was  like  a  living  man  going  into 
the  tomb,  who,  with  open  eyes,  sees  himself  buried 
out  of  sight  and  hearing  of  wife,  children,  and  friends  of 
kindred  tie. 

In  contemplating  the  likelihoods  and  possibilities  of 
our  circumstances,  I  probably  suffered  more  than  most  of 
my  fellow-servants.  I  had  known  what  it  was  to  experi- 
ence kind  and  even  tender  treatment ;  they  had  known 
nothing  of  the  sort.  Life  to  them  had  been  rough  and 
thorny,  as  well  as  dark.  They  had  —  most  of  them  — 
lived  on  my  old  master's  farm  in  Tuckahoe,  and  had  felt 
the  rigors  of  Mr.  Plummer's  rule.  He  had  written  his 
character  on  the  living  parchment  of  most  of  their  backs, 
and  left  them  seamed  and  callous ;  my  back  (thanks  to 
my  early  removal  to  Baltimore)  was  yet  tender.  I  had 
left  a  kind  mistress  in  tears  when  we  parted,  and  the 
probability  of  ever  seeing  her  again,  trembling  in  the 


balance,  as  it  were,  could  not  fail  to  excite  in  me  alarm 
and  agony.  The  thought  of  becoming  tlie  slave  of  Andrew 
Anthony  —  who  but  a  few  days  before  the  division  had  in 
my  presence  seized  my  brother  Perry  by  the  throat,  dashed 
liim  on  the  ground,  and  with  the  heel  of  his  boot  stamped 
him  on  the  head,  until  the  blood  gushed  from  his  nose 
and  ears  —  was  terrible!  This  fiendish  proceeding  had 
no  better  apology  than  the  fact  that  Perry  had  gone  to 
play  when  Master  Andrew  wanted  him  for  some  trifling 
service.  After  inflicting  this  cruel  treatment  on  my 
brother,  observing  me,  as  I  looked  at  him  in  astonish- 
ment, he  said,  "  Thafs  the  way  I'll  serve  you,  one  of 
these  days " ;  meaning,  probably,  when  I  should  come 
into  his  possession.  This  threat,  the  reader  may  well 
suppose,  was  not  very  tranquilizing  to  my  feelings. 

At  last  the  anxiety  and  suspense  were  ended ;  and 
ended,  thanks  to  a  kind  Providence,  in  accordance  with 
my  wishes.  I  fell  to  the  portion  of  Mrs.  Lucretia,  the 
dear  lady  who  bound  up  my  head  in  her  father's  kitchen, 
and  shielded  me  from  the  maledictions  of  Aunt  Katy. 

Capt.  Thomas  Auld  and  Mrs.  Lucretia  at  once  decided 
on  my  return  to  Baltimore.  They  knew  how  warmly 
Mrs.  Hugh  Auld  was  attached  to  me,  and  how  delighted 
Tommy  would  be  to  see  me,  and  withal,  having  no  imme- 
diate use  for  me,  they  willingly  concluded  this  arrange- 

I  need  not  stop  to  narrate  my  joy  on  finding  myself 
back  in  Baltimore.  I  was  just  one  month  absent,  but  the 
time  seemed  fully  six  months. 

I  had  returned  to  Baltimore  but  a  short  time  when  the 
tidings  reached  me  that  my  kind  friend,  Mrs.  Lucretia, 
was  dead.  She  left  one  child,  a  daughter,  named  Amanda, 
of  whom  I  shall  speak  again.  Shortly  after  the  death  of 
Mrs.  Lucretia,  Master  Andrew  died,  leaving  a  wife  and 
one  child.     Thus  the  whole  family  of  Anthonys,  as  it  ex- 


isted  when  I  went  to  Col.  Lloyd's  place,  was  swept  away 
during  the  first  five  years'  time  of  my  residence  at  Master 
Hugh  Auld's  in  Baltimore. 

No  especial  alteration  took  place  in  the  condition  of  the 
slaves,  in  consequence  of  these  deaths,  yet  I  could  not 
help  the  feeling  that  I  was  less  secure  now  that  Mrs. 
Lucretia  was  gone.  While  she  lived,  I  felt  that  I  had  a 
strong  friend  to  plead  for  me  in  any  emergency. 

In  a  little  book  which  I  published  six  years  after  my 
escape  from  slavery,  entitled,  "Narrative  of  Frederick 
Douglass,"  —  when  the  distance  between  the  past  then 
described  and  the  present  was  not  so  great  as  it  is  now — 
speaking  of  these  changes  in  my  master's  family,  and 
their  results,  I  used  this  language :  "  Now  all  the  property 
of  my  old  master,  slaves  included,  was  in  the  hands  of 
strangers  —  strangers  who  had  nothing  to  do  in  accumu- 
lating it.  Not  a  slave  was  left  free.  All  remained  slaves, 
from  the  youngest  to  the  oldest.  If  any  one  thing  in  my 
experience,  more  than  another,  had  served  to  deepen  my 
conviction  of  the  infernal  character  of  slavery,  and  fill  me 
with  unutterable  loathing  of  slaveholders,  it  was  their 
base  ingratitude  to  my  poor  old  grandmother.  She  had 
served  my  old  master  faithfully  from  youth  to  old  age. 
She  had  been  the  source  of  aU  his  wealth  ;  she  had  peopled 
his  plantation  with  slaves;  she  had  become  a  great- 
grandmother  in  his  service.  She  had  rocked  him  in  his 
infancy,  attended  him  in  his  childhood,  served  him  through 
life,  and  at  his  death  wiped  from  his  icy  brow  the  cold 
death-sweat,  and  closed  his  eyes  forever.  She  was  never- 
theless a  slave  —  a  slave  for  life  —  a  slave  in  the  hands 
of  strangers ;  and  in  their  hands  she  saw  her  children, 
her  grandchildren,  and  her  great-grandchildren,  divided 
like  so  many  sheep,  without  being  gratified  with  the  small 
privilege  of  a  single  word  as  to  their  or  her  own  destiny. 
And  to  cap  the  climax   of  their  base  ingratitude,  my 

122  THE  slave's  poet. 

grandmother,  who  was  now  very  old,  having  outlived  my 
old  master  and  all  his  children,  having  seen  the  beginning 
and  end  of  them,  and  her  present  owner  —  his  grandson 
—  finding  she  was  of  but  little  value  —  her  frame  already 
racked  with  the  pains  of  old  age,  and  complete  helpless- 
ness fast  stealing  over  her  once  active  limbs  —  took  her 
to  the  woods,  built  her  a  little  hut  with  a  mud  chimney,  and 
then  gave  her  the  bounteous  privilege  of  supporting  her- 
self there  in  utter  leneliness ;  thus  virtually  turning  her 
out  to  die.  If  my  poor,  dear  old  grandmother  now  lives, 
she  lives  to  remember  and  mourn  over  the  loss  of  children, 
the  loss  of  grandchildren,  and  the  loss  of  great-grand- 
children. They  are,  in  the  language  of  Whittier,  the 
slave's  poet : 

'  Gone,  gone,  sold  and  gone, 
To  the  rice-swamp  dank  and  lone ; 
Where  the  slave- whip  ceaseless  swings. 
Where  the  noisome  insect  stings, 
Where  the  fever-demon  strews 
Poison  with  the  falling  dews, 
Where  the  sickly  sunbeams  glare 
Through  the  hot  and  misty  air :  — 

Gone,  gone,  sold  and  gone. 
To  the  rice-swamp,  dank  and  lone, 
From  Virginia's  hills  and  waters  — 
Woe  is  me,  my  stolen  daughters  1* 

"  The  hearth  is  desolate.  The  unconscious  children  who 
once  sang  and  danced  in  her  presence  are  gone.  She 
gropes  her  way,  in  the  darkness  of  age,  for  a  drink  of 
water.  Instead  of  the  voices  of  her  children,  slie  hears 
by  day  the  moans  of  the  dove,  and  by  night  the  screams 
of  the  hideous  owl.  All  is  gloom.  Tlie  grave  is  at  the 
door ;  and  now,  weighed  down  by  the  pains  and  aches  of 
old  age,  when  the  head  inclines  to  the  feet^  when  the 
beginning  and  ending  of  human  existence  meet,  and  help- 
less infancy,  and  painful  old  age  combine  together,  at  this 



time,  —  tliis  most  needed  time  for  the  exercise  of  that 
tenderness  and  affection  which  children  only  can  bestow 
on  a  declining  parent,  —  my  poor  old  grandmother,  the 
devoted  mother  of  twelve  children,  is  left  all  alone,  in 
yonder  little  hut,  before  a  few  dim  cinders." 

Two  years  after  the  death  of  Mrs.  Lucretia,  Master 
Thomas  married  his  second  wife.  Her  name  was  Rowena 
Hamilton,  the  eldest  daughter  of  Mr.  William  Hamilton, 
a  rich  slaveholder  on  the  Eastern  Shore  of  Maryland, 
who  lived  about  five  miles  from  St.  Michaels,  the  then 
place  of  Master  Thomas  Auld's  residence. 

Not  long  after  his  marriage.  Master  Thomas  had  a 
misunderstanding  with  Master  Hugh,  and  as  a  means  of 
punishing  him,  he  ordered  him  to  send  me  home.  As 
the  ground  of  the  misunderstanding  will  serve  to  illustrate 
the  character  of  Southern  chivalry  and  Southern  hu- 
manity, fifty  years  ago,  I  will  relate  it. 

Among  the  children  of  my  Aunt  Milly  was  a  daughter 
named  Henny.  When  quite  a  child,  Henny  had  fallen  into 
the  fire  and  had  burnt  her  hands  so  badly  that  they  were 
of  very  little  use  to  her.  Her  fingers  were  drawn  almost 
into  the  palms  of  her  hands.  She  could  make  out  to  do 
something,  but  she  was  considered  hardly  worth  the  hav- 
ing—  of  little  more  value  than  a  horse  with  a  broken  leg. 
This  unprofitable  piece  of  property,  ill-shapen,  and 
disfigured,  Capt.  Auld  sent  off  to  Baltimore. 

After  giving  poor  Henny  a  fair  trial.  Master  Hugh  and 
his  wife  came  to  the  conclusion  that  they  had  no  use  for 
the  poor  cripple,  and  they  sent  her  back  to  Master  Thomas- 
This  the  latter  took  as  an  act  of  ingratitude  on  the  part  of 
his  brother  and  as  a  mark  of  his  displeasure,  he  required 
him  to  send  me  immediately  to  St.  Michaels,  saying,  "  if 
he  cannot  keep  Hen.,  he  shan't  have  Fred." 

Hero  was  another  shock  to  my  nerves,  another  breaking 


up  of  my  plans,  and  another  severance  of  my  religious 
and  social  alliances.  I  was  now  a  big  boy.  I  had  be- 
come quite  useful  to  several  young  colored  men,  who  had 
made  me  their  teacher.  I  had  taught  some  of  them  to 
read,  and  was  accustomed  to  spend  many  of  my  leisure 
hours  with  them.  Our  attachment  was  strong,  and  I 
greatly  dreaded  the  separation.  But  regrets  with  slaves 
were  unavailing ;  my  wishes  were  nothing ;  my  happiness 
was  the  sport  of  my  master. 

My  regrets  at  leaving  Baltimore  now  were  not  for  the 
same  reasons  as  when  I  before  left  the  city  to  be  valued 
and  handed  over  to  a  new  owner. 

A  change  had  taken  place,  both  in  Master  Hugh  and  in 
his  once  pious  and  affectionate  wife.  The  influence  of 
brandy  and  bad  company  on  him,  and  of  slavery  and 
social  isolation  on  her,  had  wrought  disastrously  upon  the 
characters  of  both.  Thomas  was  no  longer  "  little  Tom- 
my," but  was  a  big  boy,  and  had  learned  to  assume  the 
airs  of  his  class  towards  me.  My  condition,  therefore,  in 
the  house  of  Master  Hugh  was  not  by  any  means  so  com- 
fortable as  in  former  years.  My  attachments  were  now 
outside  of  our  family.  They  were  to  those  to  whom  I  im- 
parted instruction,  and  to  those  little  white  boys  from 
whom  I  received  instruction.  There,  too,  was  my  dear 
old  father,  the  pious  Lawson,  who  was  in  all  the  Chris- 
tian graces  the  very  counterpart  of  "  Uncle  Tom "  — 
the  resemblance  so  perfect  that  he  might  have  been  the 
original  of  Mrs.  Stowe's  Christian  hero.  The  thought  of 
leaving  these  dear  friends  greatly  troubled  me,  for  I  was 
going  without  the  hope  of  ever  returning  again ;  the  feud 
being  most  bitter,  and  apparently  wholly  irreconcilable. 

In  addition  to  the  pain  of  parting  from  friends,  as  1 
supposed,  forever,  I  had  the  added  grief  of  neglected 
chances  of  escape  to  brood  over.     I  had  put  off  running 

AT   ST.   MICHAELS   AGAIN.  125 

away  until  I  was  now  to  be  placed  where  opportunities 
for  escape  would  be  much  more  difficult,  and  less  frequent. 
As  we  sailed  down  the  Chesapeake  bay,  on  board  the 
sloop  Amanda,  to  St  Michaels,  and  were  passed  by  the 
steamers  plying  between  Baltimore  and  Philadelphia,  I 
formed  many  a  plan  for  my  future,  beginning  and  ending 
in  the  same  determination — jQt  to  find  some  way  of 
escape  from  slavery. 



St.  Michaels  and  its  inhabitants — Capt.  Auld — His  new  wife — Suffer- 
ings from  hunger — Forced  to  steal — Argument  in  vindication 
thereof — Southern  camp-meeting — What  Capt.  Auld  did  there — 
Hopes — Suspicions — The  result — Faith  and  works  at  variance — 
Position  in  the  church — Poor  Cousin  Henny — Methodist  Preachers 
— Their  disregard  of  the  slaves — One  exception — Sabbath-school — 
How  and  by  whom  broken  up — Sad  ^^change  in  my  prospects — 
Covey,  the  negro-breaker. 

ST.  MICHAELS,  the  village  in  which  was  now  my  new 
home,  compared  favorably  with  villages  in  slave 
States  generally,  at  this  time — 1833.  There  were  a  few 
comfortable  dwellings  in  it,  but  the  place  as  a  whole  wore 
a  dull,  slovenly,  enterprise-forsaken  aspect.  The  mass  of 
the  buildings  were  of  wood ;  they  had  never  enjoyed  the 
artificial  adornment  of  paint,  and  time  and  storms  had 
worn  off  the  bright  color  of  the  wood,  leaving  them 
almost  as  black  as  buildings  charred  by  a  conflagration. 

St.  Michaels  had,  in  former  years,  enjoyed  some  repu- 
tation as  a  ship-building  community,  but  that  business  had 
almost  entirely  given  place  to  oyster-fishing  for  the  Bal- 
timore and  Philadelphia  markets,  a  course  of  life  highly 
unfavorable  to  morals,  industry,  and  manners.  Miles 
river  was  broad,  and  its  oyster-fishing  grounds  were 
extensive,  and  the  fishermen  were  out  often  all  day  and 
a  p^rt  of  the  night,  during  autumn,  winter  and  spring. 
This  exposure  was  an  excuse  for  carrying  with  them,  in 
considerable  quantities,  spirituous  liquors,  the  then  sup- 
posed best  antidote  for  cold.  Each  canoe  was  supplied 
with  its  jug  of  rum,  and  tippling  among  this  class  of  the 


LIFE    AT    ST.    MICHAELS.  127 

citizens  became  general.  This  drinking  liabit,  in  an 
ignorant  population,  fostered  coarseness,  vulgarity,  and 
an  indolent  disregard  for  the  social  improvement  of  the 
place,  so  that  it  was  admitted  by  the  few  sober  thinking 
people  who  remained  there,  that  St.  Michaels  was  an 
unsaintly,  as  well  as  unsightly  place. 

I  went  to  St.  Michaels  to  live  in  March,  1833.  I  know 
the  year,  because  it  was  the  one  succeeding  the  first 
cholera  in  Baltimore,  and  was  also  the  year  of  that 
strange  phenomenon  when  the  heavens  seemed  about  to 
part  with  their  starry  train.  I  witnessed  this  gorgeous 
spectacle,  and  was  awe-struck.  The  air  seemed  filled  with 
bright  descending  messengers  from  the  sky.  It  was 
about  daybreak  when  I  saw  this  sublime  scene.  I  was 
not  without  the  suggestion,  at  the  moment,  that  it  might 
be  the  harbinger  of  the  coming  of  the  Son  of  Man ;  and 
in  my  then  state  of  mind  I  was  prepared  to  hail  Him  as 
my  friend  and  deliverer.  I  had  read  that  the  "  stars 
shall  fall  from  heaven,"  and  they  were  now  falling.  I 
was  suffering  very  much  in  my  mind.  It  did  seem  that 
every  time  the  young  tendrils  of  my  affection  became 
attached  they  were  rudely  broken  by  some  unnatural  out- 
side power ;  and  I  was  looking  away  to  heaven  for  the 
rest  denied  me  on  earth. 

Bat  to  my  story.  It  was  now  more  than  seven  years 
since  I  had  lived  with  Master  Thomas  Auld,  in  the  family 
of  my  old  master,  Capt.  Anthony,  on  the  home  plantation 
of  Col.  Lloyd.  As  I  knew  him  then  it  was  as  the  hus- 
band of  old  master's  daughter ;  I  had  now  to  know  him 
as  my  master.  All  my  lessons  concerning  his  temper  and 
disposition,  and  the  best  methods  of  pleasing  him,  were 
yet  to  be  learned.  Slaveholders,  however,  were  not  very 
ceremonious  in  approaching  a  slave,  and  my  ignorance  of 
the  new  material  in  the  shape  of  a  master  was  but  tran- 
sient.    Nor  was  my  new  mistress  long  in  making  known 

130  FAITH    AND    WORKS. 

the  heroes  of  the  revolution.  Slaveliolders  I  held  to  be 
individually  and  collectively  responsible  for  all  the  evils 
which  grew  out  of  the  horrid  relation,  and  I  believed  they 
would  be  so  held  in  the  sight  of  God.  To  make  a  man  a 
slave  was  to  rob  him  of  moral  responsibility.  Freedom 
of  choice  is  the  essence  of  all  accountability;  but  my 
kind  readers  are  probably  less  concerned  about  what  were 
my  opinions  than  about  that  which  more  nearly  touched 
my  personal  experience,  albeit  my  opinions  have,  in  some 
sort,  been  the  outgrowth  of  my  experience. 

When  I  lived  with  Capt.  Auld  I  thought  him  incapable 
of  a  noble  action.  His  leading  characteristic  was  intense 
selfishness.  I  think  he  was  fully  aware  of  this  fact  him- 
self, and  often  tried  to  conceal  it.  Capt.  Auld  was  not 
born  a  slaveholder — not  a  birthright  member  of  the  slave- 
holding  oligarchy.  He  was  only  a  slaveholder  by  mar- 
riage-right ;  and  of  all  slaveholders  these  were  by  far  the 
most  exacting.  There  was  in  him  all  the  love  of  domi- 
nation, the  pride  of  mastery,  and  tlie  swagger  of  authority ; 
but  his  rule  lacked  the  vital  element  of  consistency.  He 
could  be  cruel ;  but  his  methods  of  showing  it  w^ere  cow- 
ardly, and  evinced  his  meanness,  rather  than  his  spirit. 
His  commands  were  strong,  his  enforcements  weak. 

Slaves  were  not  insensible  to  the  whole-souled  qualities 
of  a  generous,  dashing  slaveholder,  who  w^as  fearless  of 
consequences,  and  they  preferred  a  master  of  this  bold 
and  daring  kind,  even  with  the  risk  of  being  shot  down 
for  impudence,  to  the  fretful  little  soul  who  never  used 
the  lash  but  at  the  suggestion  of  a  love  of  gain. 

Slaves  too,  readily  distinguish  between  the  birthright 
bearing  of  the  original  slaveholder,  and  the  assumed 
attitudes  of  the  accidental  slaveholder;  and  while  they 
could  have  no  respect  for  either,  they  despised  the  latter 
more  than  the  former. 

The  luxury  of  having   slaves   to  wait  upon  him  was 

CAPT.  auld's  conveksion.  131 

new  to  Master  Thomas,  and  for  it  he  was  wholly  unpre- 
pared. He  was  a  slaveholder,  without  the  ability  to  hold 
or  manage  his  slaves.  Failing  to  command  their  respect, 
both  himself  and  wife  were  ever  on  the  alert  lest  some 
indignity  should  be  offered  him  by  the  slaves. 

It  was  in  the  month  of  August,  1833,  when  I  had 
become  almost  desperate  under  the  treatment  of  Master 
Thomas,  and  entertained  more  strongly  than  ever  the  oft- 
repeated  determination  to  run  away, — a  circumstance 
occurred  which  seemed  to  promise  brighter  and  better 
days  for  us  all.  At  a  Methodist  camp-meeting,  held  in 
the  Bay  side  (a  famous  place  for  camp-meetings),  about 
eiglit  miles  from  St.  Michaels,  Master  Thomas  came  out 
with  a  profession  of  religion.  He  had  long  been  an 
object  of  interest  to  the  church,  and  to  the  ministers,  as 
I  had  seen  by  the  repeated  visits  and  lengthy  exhorta- 
tions of  the  latter.  He  was  a  fish  quite  worth  catching, 
for  he  had  money  and  standing.  In  the  community  of 
St.  Michaels,  he  was  equal  to  the  best  citizen.  He  was 
strictly  temperate,  and  there  was  little  to  do  for  him  to 
give  him  the  appearance  of  piety,  and  to  make  him  a 
pillar  of  the  church.  Well,  the  camp-meeting  continued 
a  week ;  people  gathered  from  all  parts  of  the  country, 
and  two  steamboats  came  loaded  from  Baltimore.  The 
ground  was  happily  chosen ;  seats  were  arranged ;  a 
stand  erected ;  a  rude  altar  fenced  in,  fronting  the 
preacher's  stand,  with  straw  in  it,  making  a  soft  kneel- 
ing place  for  the  accommodation  of  mourners.  This 
place  would  have  held  at  least  one  hundred  persons.  In 
front  and  on  the  sides  of  the  preacher's  stand,  and  out- 
side the  long  rows  of  seats,  rose  the  first  class  of  stately 
tents,  each  vicing  with  the  other  in  strength,  neatness, 
and  capacity  for  accommodation.  Behind  this  first  circle 
of  tents  was  another,  less  imposing,  which  reached  round 
the  camp-ground  to  the  speaker's  stand.     Outside  this 

132  A   CAMP   MEETING. 

second  class  of  tents  were  covered  wagons,  ox-carts,  and 
vehicles  of  every  shape  and  size.  These  served  as  tents 
to  their  owners.  Outside  of  these,  huge  fires  were  burn- 
ing in  all  directions,  where  roasting  and  boiling  and  fry- 
ing were  going  on,  for  the  benefit  of  those  who  were 
attending  to  their  spiritual  welfare  within  the  circle. 
Behind  the  preacher's  stand,  a  narrow  space  was  marked 
out  for  the  use  of  the  colored  people.  There  were  no 
seats  provided  for  this  class  of  persons,  and  if  the 
preachers  addressed  them  at  all,  it  was  in  an  aside. 
After  the  preaching  was  over,  at  every  service,  an  invita- 
tion was  given  to  mourners  to  come  forward  into  the  pen; 
and  in  some  cases,  ministers  went  out  to  persuade  men 
and  women  to  come  in.  By  one  of  these  ministers 
Master  Thomas  was  persuaded  to  go  inside  the  pen.  I 
was  deeply  interested  in  that  matter,  and  followed ;  and 
though  colored  people  were  not  allowed  either  in  the  pen, 
or  in  front  of  the  preacher's  stand,  I  ventured  to  take  my 
stand  at  a  sort  of  half-way  place  between  the  blacks  and 
whites,  where  1  could  distinctly  see  the  movements  of 
the  mourners,  and  especially  the  progress  of  Master 
Thomas.  "  If  he  has  got  religion,"  thought  I,  "  he  will 
emancipate  his  slaves ;  or,  if  he  should  not  do  so  much 
as  this,  he  will  at  any  rate  behave  towards  us  more  kindly, 
and  feed  us  more  generously  than  he  has  heretofore 
done."  Appealing  to  my  own  religious  experience,  and 
judging  my  master  by  what  was  true  in  my  own  case,  I 
could  not  regard  him  as  soundly  converted,  unless  some 
such  good  results  followed  his  profession  of  religion. 
But  in  my  expectations  I  was  doubly  disappointed : 
Master  Thomas  was  Master  Thomas  still.  The  fruits  of 
his  righteousness  were  to  show  themselves  in  no  such 
way  as  I  had  anticipated.  His  conversion  was  not  to 
change  his  relation  toward  men — at  any  rate  not  toward 
BLACK  men — but  toward  God.     My  faith,  I  confess,  was 


not  great.  There  was  something  in  his  appearance  that 
in  my  mind  cast  a  doubt  over  his  conversion.  Standing 
wliere  I  did,  I  could  see  his  every  movement.  I  watched 
very  narrowly  while  he  remained  in  the  pen;  and  although 
I  saw  that  his  face  was  extremely  red,  and  his  hair  dishev- 
eled, and  though  I  heard  him  groan,  and  saw  a  stray 
tear  halting  on  his  cheek,  as  if  inquiring,  "  which  way 
shall  I  go  ?  "—I  could  not  wholly  confide  in  the  genuine- 
ness of  the  conversiou.  The  hesitating  behavior  of  that 
tear-drop,  and  its  loneliness,  distressed  me,  and  cast  a 
doubt  upon  the  whole  transaction,  of  which  it  was  a  part. 
But  people  said,  ''  Capt.  Auld  has  come  through,"  and  it 
was  for  me  to  hope  for  the  best.  I  was  bound  to  do  this 
in  charity,  for  I,  too,  was  religious,  and  had  been  in  the 
church  full  three  years,  although  now  I  was  not  more  than 
sixteen  years  old.  Slaveholders  might  sometimes  have 
confidence  in  the  piety  of  some  of  their  slaves,  but  slaves 
seldom  have  confidence  in  the  piety  of  their  masters. 
"  He  can't  go  to  heaven  without  blood  on  his  skirts,"  was 
a  settled  point  in  the  creed  of  every  slave ;  which  rose 
superior  to  all  teachings  to  the  contrary,  and  stood  for- 
ever as  a  fixed  fact.  The  highest  evidence  the  slave- 
holder could  give  the  slave  of  his  acceptance  with  God, 
was  the  emancipation  of  his  slaves.  This  was  proof  to 
us  that  he  was  willing  to  give  up  all  to  God,  and  for  the 
sake  of  God,  and  not  to  do  this  was,  in  our  estimation, 
an  evidence  of  hard-heartedness,  and  was  wholly  incon- 
sistent with  the  idea  of  genuine  conversion.  I  had  read 
somewhere,  in  the  Methodist  Discipline,  the  following 
question  and  answer:  "Question.  What  shall  be  done 
for  the  extirpation  of  slavery?"  "Answer.  We  declare 
that  we  are  as  much  as  ever  convinced  of  the  great  evil 
of  slavery ;  therefore,  no  slaveholder  shall  be  eligible  to 
any  ofiicial  station  in  our  church."  These  words  sounded 
in  my  ears  for  a  long  time,  and  encouraged  me  to  hope. 


But,  as  I  have  before  said,  I  was  doomed  to  disappoint- 
ment. Master  Thomas  seemed  to  be  aware  of  my  hopes 
and  expectations  concerning  him.  I  have  thought  before 
now  that  he  looked  at  me  in  answer  to  my  glances,  as 
much  as  to  say,  "I  will  teach  you,  young  man,  that 
though  I  have  parted  with  my  sins,  I  have  not  parted 
wath  my  sense.  I  shall  hold  my  slaves,  and  go  to 
heaven  too." 

There  was  always  a  scarcity  of  good-nature  about  the 
man ;  but  now  his  whole  countenance  was  soured  all  over 
with  the  seemings  of  piety,  and  he  became  more  rigid  and 
stringent  in  his  exactions.  If  religion  had  any  effect  at 
all  on  him,  it  made  him  more  cruel  and  hateful  in  all  his 
ways.  Do  I  judge  him  harshly  ?  God  forbid.  Capt. 
Auld  made  the  greatest  professions  of  piety.  His  house 
was  literally  a  house  of  prayer.  In  the  morning  and  in 
the  evening  loud  prayers  and  hymns  were  heard  there,  in 
which  both  himself  and  wife  joined;  yet  no  more  nor 
better  meal  was  distributed  at  the  quarters,  no  more 
attention  was  paid  to  the  moral  welfare  of  the  kitchen, 
and  nothing  was  done  to  make  us  feel  that  the  heart  of 
Master  Thomas  was  one  whit  better  than  it  was  before  he 
went  into  the  little  pen,  opposite  the  preacher's  stand  on 
the  camp-ground.  Our  hopes,  too,  founded  on  the  disci- 
pline, soon  vanished ;  for  he  was  taken  into  the  church 
at  once,  and  before  he  was  out  of  his  term  of  probation 
he  led  in  class.  He  quite  distinguished  himself  among 
the  brethren  as  a  fervent  exhorter.  His  progress  was 
almost  as  rapid  as  the  growth  of  the  fabled  vine  of  Jack 
and  the  Bean-Stalk.  No  manwas  more  active  in  revivals, 
or  would  go  more  miles  to  assist  in  carrying  them  on,  and 
in  getting  outsiders  interested  in  religion.  His  house, 
being  one  of  the  holiest  in  St.  Michaels,  became  the 
"  preachers'  home."  They  evidently  liked  to  share  his 
hospitality ;  for  while  he  starved  us,  he  stuffed  them  — 

THE   REV.    GEORGE   COOKMAN.  .  135 

three  or  four  of  these  "  ambassadors "  being  there  not 
unfrequentlj  at  a  time  —  all  living  on  the  fat  of  the  land, 
while  we  in  the  kitchen  were  worse  than  hungry.     Not 
often  did  we  get  a  smile  of  recognition  from  these  holy- 
men.     They    seemed    about   as   unconcerned   about   our 
getting  to  heaven  as  about  our  getting  out  of  slavery. 
To  this  general  charge  1    must  make  one  exception  — 
the  Reverend  George  Cookman.      Unlike  Rev.  Messrs. 
Storks,  Ewry,  Nicky,  Humphrey,  and  Cooper  (all  of  whom 
were  on  the  St.  Michaels  circuit),  he  kindly  took  an  inter- 
est in  our  temporal  and  spiritual  welfare.     Our  souls  and 
our  bodies  were  alike  sacred  in  his   sight,  and  he  really 
had  a  good  deal  of  genuine  anti-slavery  feeling  mingled 
with  his  colonization  ideas.     There  was  not  a  slave  in 
our  neighborhood  who   did   not   love   and  venerate  Mr. 
Cookman.     It  was  pretty  generally  believed  that  he  had 
been  instrumental  in  bringing  one  of  the  largest  slave- 
holders in  that  neighborhood  —  Mr.  Samuel  Harrison  — 
to  emancipate  all  his  slaves,  and  the  general  impression 
about  Mr.  Cookman  was,  that  whenever  he  met  slave- 
holders he  labored  faithfully  with  them,  as  a  religious 
duty,  to  induce  them  to  liberate  their  bondmen.     When 
this  good  man  was  at  our  house,  we  were  all  sure  to  be 
called  in  to  prayers  in  the  morning ;  and  he  was  not  slow 
in  making  inquiries  as  to  the  state  of  our  minds,  nor  in 
giving  us  a  word  of  exhortation  and  of  encouragement. 
Great  was  the  sorrow  of  all  the  slaves  when  this  faithful 
preacher  of  the  gospel  was  removed  from  the  circuit.    He 
was  an  eloquent  preacher,  and  possessed  what  few  min- 
isters,  south   of   Mason  and  Dixon's  line,  possessed  or 
dared  to  show ;  viz.,  a  warm  and  philanthropic   heart. 
This  Mr.   Cookman  was  an  Englishman   by  birth,  and 
perished  on  board  the  ill-fated  steamship   "  President," 
while  on  his  way  to  England. 

But  to  my  experience  with  Master  Thomas  after  his 


conversion.  In  Baltimore  I  could  occasionally  get  into  a 
Sabbath-school,  amongst  the  free  children,  and  receive 
lessons  with  the  rest ;  but  having  learned  to  read  and 
write  already,  I  was  more  a  teacher  than  a  scholar,  even 
there.  When,  however,  I  went  back  to  the  eastern  shore 
and  was  at  the  house  of  Master  Thomas,  I  was  not 
allowed  either  to  teach  or  to  be  taught.  The  whole  com- 
munity, with  but  one  single  exception,  among  the  whites, 
frowned  upon  everything  like  imparting  instruction,  either 
to  slaves  or  to  free  colored  persons.  That  single  excep- 
tion, a  pious  young  man  named  Wilson,  asked  me  one 
day  if  I  would  like  to  assist  him  in  teaching  a  little  Sab- 
bath-school, at  the  house  of  a  free  colored  man  named 
James  Mitchell.  The  idea  to  me  was  a  delightful  one, 
and  I  told  him  I  would  gladly  devote  as  much  of  my 
Sabbaths  as  I  could  command  to  that  most  laudable  work. 
Mr.  Wilson  soon  mustered  up  a  dozen  old  spelling-books 
and  a  few  Testaments,  and  we  commenced  operations, 
with  some  twenty  scholars  in  our  school.  Here,  thought 
I,  is  something  worth  living  for ;  here  is  a  chance  for  use- 
fulness. The  first  Sunday  passed  delightfully,  and  I 
spent  the  week  after  very  joyously.  I  could  not  go  to 
Baltimore,  where  I  and  the  little  company  of  young 
friends  who  had  been  so  much  to  me  there,  and  from 
whom  I  felt  parted  forever,  but  I  could  make  a  little  Bal- 
timore here.  At  our  second  meeting  I  learned  there  were 
some  objections  to  the  existence  of  our  school ;  and  sure 
enough,  we  had  scarcely  got  to  work  —  good  work,  simply 
teaching  a  few  colored  children  how  to  read  the  gospel 
of  the  Son  of  God — when  in  rushed  a  mob,  headed  by 
two  class-leaders,  Mr.  Wright  Fairbanks  and  Mr.  Garri- 
son West,  and  with  them  Master  Thomas.  They  were 
armed  with  sticks  and  other  missiles,  and  drove  us  off, 
commanding  us  never  to  meet  for  such  a  purpose  again. 
One  of  this  pious  crew  told  me  that  as  for  me,  I  wanted 


to  be  another  Nat.  Turner,  and  if  I  did  not  look  out  I 
should  get  as  many  balls  in  me  as  Nat.  did  into  him. 
Thus  ended  the  Sabbath-school ;  and  the  reader  will  not 
be  surprised  that  this  conduct,  on  the  part  of  class-leaders 
and  professedly  holy  men,  did  not  serve  to  strengthen  my 
religious  convictions.  The  cloud  over  my  St.  Michaels 
home  grew  heavier  and  blacker  than  ever. 

It  was  not  merely  the  agency  of  Master  Tliomas  in 
breaking  up  our  Sabbath-school,  that  shook  my  confidence 
in  the  power  of  that  kind  of  southern  religion  to  make 
men  wiser  or  better,  but  I  saw  in  him  all  the  cruelty  and 
meanness  after  his  conversion  which  he  had  exhibited 
before  that  time.  His  cruelty  and  meanness  were  es- 
pecially displayed  in  his  treatment  of  my  unfortunate 
cousin  Henny,  whose  lameness  made  her  a  burden  to 
him.  I  have  seen  him  tie  up  this  lame  and  maimed 
woman  and  whip  her  in  a  manner  most  brutal  and  shock- 
ing ;  and  then  with  blood-chilling  blasphemy  he  would 
quote  the  passage  of  scripture,  "  That  servant  which 
knew  his  lord's  will  and  prepared  not  himself,  neither  did 
according  to  his  will,  shall  be  beaten  with  many  stripes." 
He  would  keep  this  lacerated  woman  tied  up  by  her 
wrists  to  a  bolt  in  the  joist,  three,  four,  and  five  hours  at 
a  time.  He  would  tie  her  up  early  in  the  morning,  whip 
her  with  a  cowskin  before  breakfast,  leave  her  tied  up, 
go  to  his  store,  and  returning  to  dinner  repeat  the  casti- 
gation,  laying  on  the  rugged  lash  on  flesh  already  raw 
by  repeated  blows.  He  seemed  desirous  to  get  the  poor 
girl  out  of  existence,  or  at  any  rate  off  his  hands.  In 
proof  of  this,  he  afterwards  gave  her  away  to  his  sister 
Sarah  (Mrs.  Cline),  but  as  in  the  case  of  Mr.  Hugh, 
Henny  was  soon  returned  on  his  hands.  Finally,  upon  a 
pretense  that  he  could  do  nothing  for  her  (I  use  his  own 
words),  he  "  set  her  adrift  to  take  care  of  herself."  Here 
was  a  recently  converted  man,  holding  with  tight  grasp 


the  well-framed  and  able-bodied  slaves  left  him  by  old 
master  —  the  persons  who  in  freedom  could  have  taken 
care  of  themselves;  j^et  turning  loose  the  only  cripple 
among  them,  virtually  to  starve  and  die. 

No  doubt,  had  Master  Thomas  been  asked  by  some 
pious  northern  brother,  why  he  held  slaves  ?  his  reply 
would  have  been  precisely  that  which  many  another 
slaveholder  has  returned  to  the  same  inquiry,  viz. :  "I 
hold  my  slaves  for  their  own  good." 

The  many  differences  springing  up  between  Master 
Thomas  and  myself,  owing  to  tlie  clear  perception  I  had 
of  his  character,  and  the  boldness  with  which  I  defended 
myself  against  his  capricious  complaints,  led  him  to  de- 
clare that  I  was  unsuited  to  his  wants ;  that  my  city  life 
had  affected  me  perniciously ;  that  in  fact  it  had  almost 
ruined  me  for  every  good  purpose,  and  had  fitted  me  for 
everything  bad.  One  of  my  greatest  faults,  or  offences, 
was  that  of  letting  his  horse  get  away  and  go  down  to 
the  farm  which  belonged  to  his  father-in-law.  The  ani- 
mal had  a  liking  for  that  farm  with  which  I  fully  sympa- 
thized. Whenever  I  let  it  out  it  would  go  dashing 
down  the  road  to  Mr.  Hamilton's  as  if  going  on  a  grand 
frolic.  My  horse  gone,  of  course  I  must  go  after  it.  The 
explanation  of  our  mutual  attachment  to  the  place  is  the 
same  —  the  horse  found  good  pasturage,  and  I  found  there 
plenty  of  bread.  Mr.  Hamilton  had  his  faults,  but  starv- 
ing his  slaves  was  not  one  of  them.  He  gave  food  in 
abundance,  and  of  excellent  quality.  In  Mr.  Hamilton's 
cook  —  Aunt  Mary — I  found  a  generous  and  considerate 
friend.  She  never  allowed  me  to  go  there  without  giv- 
ing me  bread  enough  to  make  good  the  deficiencies  ©f  a 
day  or  two.  Master  Thomas  at  last  resolved  to  endure 
my  behavior  no  longer ;  he  could  keep  neither  me  nor  his 
horse,  we  liked  so  well  to  be  at  his  father-in-law's  farm.  I 
had  now  lived  with  him  nearly  nine  months,  and  he  had 


given  me  a  number  of  severe  whippings,  without  any  vis- 
ible improvement  in  my  character  or  conduct,  and  now 
he  wae  resolved  to  put  me  out,  as  he  said,  "  to  he  broken.''^ 
There  was,  in  the  Bay-side,  very  near  the  camp-ground 
where  my  master  received  his  religious  impressions,  a 
man  named  Edward  Covey,  who  enjoyed  the  reputation 
of  being  a  first  rate  hand  at  breaking  young  negroes. 
This  Covey  was  a  poor  man,  a  farm  renter ;  and  his  repu- 
tation of  being  a  good  hand  to  break  in  slaves  was  of 
immense  pecuniary  advantage  to  him,  since  it  enabled 
him  to  get  his  farm  tilled  with  very  little  expense,  com- 
pared with  what  it  would  have  cost  him  otherwise.  Some 
slaveholders  thought  it  an  advantage  to  let  Mr.  Covey 
have  the  government  of  their  slaves  a  year  or  two,  almost 
free  of  charge,  for  the  sake  of  the  excellent  training 
they  had  under  his  management.  Like  some  horse- 
breakers  noted  for  their  skill,  who  ride  the  best  horses  in 
the  country  without  expense,  Mr.  Covey  could  have  under 
him  the  most  fiery  bloods  of  the  neighborhood,  for  the 
simple  reward  of  returning  them  to  their  owners  well 
broken.  Added  to  the  natural  fitness  of  Mr.  Covey  for  the 
duties  of  his  profession,  he  was  said  "  to  enjoy  religion," 
and  he  was  as  strict  in  the  cultivation  of  piety  as  he  was 
in  the  cultivation  of  his  farm.  I  was  made  aware  of 
these  traits  in  his  character  by  some  one  who  had  been 
under  his  hand,  and  while  I  could  not  look  forward  to 
going  to  him  with  any  degree  of  pleasure,  I  was  glad  to 
get  away  from  St.  Michaels.  I  believed  I  should  get 
enough  to  eat  at  Covey's,  even  if  I  suffered  in  other 
respects,  and  this  to  a  hungry  man  is  not  a  prospect  to 
be  regarded  with  indifference. 



Journey  to  Covey's — Meditations  by  the  way — Covey's  house — Family 
— Awkwardness  as  a  field  hand — A  cruel  beating — Why  given- 
Description  of  Covey — First  attempt  at  driving  oxen — Hair-breadth 
escape — Ox  and  man  alike  property — Hard  labor  more  effective 
than  the  whip  for  breaking  down  the  spirit — Cunning  and  trickery 
of  Covey — Family  worship — Shocking  and  indecent  contempt  for 
chastity — Great  metal  agitation — Anguish  beyond  description. 

THE  morning  of  January  1,  1834,  with  its  chilling 
wind  and  pinching  frost,  quite  in  harmony  with  the 
winter  in  my  own  mind,  found  me,  with  my  little  bundle 
of  clothing  on  the  end  of  a  stick  swung  across  my  shoulder, 
on  the  main  road  bending  my  way  towards  Covey's, 
whither  I  had  been  imperiously  ordered  by  Master  Thomas. 
He  had  been  as  good  as  his  word,  and  had  committed 
me  without  reserve  to  the  mastery  of  that  hard  man. 
Eight  or  ten  years  had  now  passed  since  I  had  been  taken 
from  my  grandmother's  cabin  in  Tuckahoe;  and  these  years, 
for  the  most  part,  I  had  spent  in  Baltimore,  where,  as  the 
reader  has  already  seen,  I  was  treated  with  comparative 
tenderness.  I  was  now  about  to  sound  profounder  depths 
in  slave  life.  My  new  master  was  notorious  for  his  fierce 
and  savage  disposition,  and  my  only  consolation  in  going 
to  live  with  him,  was  the  certainty  of  finding  him  precisely 
as  represented  by  common  fame.  There  was  neither  joy 
in  my  heart  nor  elasticity  in  my  frame  as  I  started  for 
the  tyrant's  home.  Starvation  made  me  glad  to  leave 
Thomas  Aald's,  and  the  cruel  lash  made  me  dread  to  go 
to  Covey's.'  Escape,  however,  was  impossible  ;  so,  heavy 
and  sad,  I  paced  the  seven  miles  which  lay  between  his 


HE  IS   SENT   TO   SCHOOL.  141 

house  and  St.  Michaels,  thinking  much  by  the  solitary 
way  of  my  adverse  condition.     But  thinMng  was   all  I 
could  do.     Like  a  fish  in  a  net,  allowed  to  play  for  a 
time,  I  was  now  drawn  rapidly  to  the  shore,  secured  at 
all  points.     "  I  am,''  thought  I,  '•'  but  the  sport  of  a  power 
which  makes  no  account,  either  of  my  welfare  or  my 
happiness.     By  a  law  which  I  can  comprehend,  but  can- 
not evade  or  resist,  I  am  ruthlessly  snatched  from  the 
hearth  of  a  fond  grandmother  and  hurried  away  to  the 
home  of  a  mysterious  old  master ;  again  I  am  removed 
from    there   to    a   master   in    Baltimore;    thence   am   I 
snatched  away  to  the  eastern  shore  to  be  valued  with  the 
beasts  of  the  field,  and  with  them  divided  and  set  apart 
for  a  possessor ;  then  I  am  sent  back  to  Baltimore,  and 
by  the  time  I  have  formed  new  attachments  and  have 
begun  to  hope  that  no  more  rude  shocks  shall  touch  me, 
a  difference   arises  between   brothers,  and  I  am  again 
broken  up  and  sent  to  St.  Michaels ;  and  now  from  the 
latter  place  I  am  footing  my  way  to  the  home  of  another 
master,  where  I  am  given  to  understand  that  like  a  wild 
young  working  animal  I  am  to  be  broken  to  the  yoke  of  a 
bitter  and  life-long  bondage."     With  thouglits  and  reflec- 
tions like  these,  I  came  in  sight  of  a  small  wood-colored 
building,  about  a  mile  from  the  main  road,  which,  from 
the  description  I  had  received  at  starting,  I  easily  rec- 
ognized as  my  new  home.     The  Chesapeake  bay,  upon 
the  jutting  banks  of  which  the  little  wood -colored  house 
was    standing,   white   with  foam   raised   by  the   heavy 
northwest  wind ;   Poplar   Island,  covered   with   a  thick 
black  pine  forest,  standing  out  amid  this  half  ocean ;  and 
Keat  Point,  stretching  its  sandy,  desert-like  shores  out 
into  the  foam-crested  bay,  were  all  in  sight,  and  served  to 
deepen  the  wild  and  desolate  scene. 

The  good  clothes  I  had  brought  with  me  from  Balti- 
more were  now  worn  thin,  and  had  not  been  replaced ; 


for  Master  Thomas  was  as  little  careful  to  provide  against 
cold  as  hunger.  Met  here  by  a  north  wind,  sweeping 
through  an  open  space  of  forty  miles,  I  was  glad  to 
make  any  port,  and,  therefore,  I  speedily  pressed  on 
to  the  wood-colored  house.  The  family  consisted  of 
Mr.  and  Mrs.  Covey ;  Mrs.  Kemp  (a  broken-backed 
woman),  sister  to  Mrs.  Covey ;  William  Hughes,  cousin 
to  Mr.  Covey;  Caroline,  the  cook;  Bill  Smith,  a  hired 
man,  and  myself.  Bill  Smith,  Bill  Hughes,  and  myself 
were  the  working  force  of  the  farm,  which  comprised 
three  or  four  hundred  acres.  I  was  now  for  the  first 
time  in  my  life  to  be  a  field-hand;  and  in  my  new 
employment  1  found  myself  even  more  awkward  than  a 
green  country  boy  may  be  supposed  to  be  upon  his  first 
entrance  into  the  bewildering  scenes  of  city  life;  and  my 
awkwardness  gave  me  much  trouble.  Strange  and  un- 
natural as  it  may  seem,  I  had  been  in  my  new  home  but 
three  days  before  Mr.  Covey  (my  brother  in  the  Metho- 
dist church)  gave  me  a  bitter  foretaste  of  what  was  in 
reserve  for  me.  I  presume  he  thought  that  since  he  had 
but  a  single  year  in  which  to  complete  his  work,  the 
sooner  he  began  the  better.  Perhaps  he  thought  by 
coming  to  blows  at  once  we  should  mutually  understand 
better  our  relations  to  each  other.  But  to  whatever 
motive,  direct  or  indirect,  the  cause  may  be  referred,  I 
had  not  been  in  his  possession  three  whole  days  before  he 
subjected  me  to  a  most  brutal  chastisement.  Under  his 
heavy  blows  blood  flowed  freely,  and  wales  were  left  on 
my  back  as  large  as  my  little  finger.  The  sores  from 
this  flogging  continued  for  weeks,  for  they  were  kept 
open  by  the  rough  and  coarse  cloth  which  I  wore  for 
shirting.  The  occasion  and  details  of  this  first  chapter 
of  my  experience  as  a  field-hand  must  be  told,  that  the 
reader  may  see  how  unreasonable,  as  well  as  how  cruel, 
my  new  Master  Covey  was.     The  whole  thing  I  found  to 


be  characteristic  of  the  man,  and  I  was  probably  treated 
no  worse  by  him  than  scores  of  lads  who  had  previously 
been  committed  to  him,  for  reasons  similar  to  those 
which  induced  my  master  to  place  me  with  him.  But 
here  are  the  facts  connected  with  the  affair,  precisely  as 
they  occurred. 

On  one  of  the  coldest  mornings  of  the  whole  month  of 
January,  1834,  I  was  ordered  at  daybreak  to  get  a  load 
of  wood,  from  a  forest  about  two  miles  from  the  house. 
In  order  to  perform  this  work,  Mr.  Covey  gave  me  a  pair 
of  unbroken  oxen,  for  it  seemed  that  his  breaking  abilities 
had  not  been  turned  in  that  direction.  In  due  form,  and 
with  all  proper  ceremony,  I  was  introduced  to  this  huge 
yoke  of  unbroken  oxen,  and  was  carefully  made  to  un- 
derstand which  was  "  Buck,"  and  which  was  "  Darby," — 
which  was  the  "in  hand,"  and  which  was  the  "off  hand" 
ox.  The  master  of  this  important  ceremony  was  no  less  a 
person  than  Mr.  Covey  himself ;  and  the  introduction  was 
the  first  of  the  kind  I  had  ever  had. 

My  life,  hitherto,  had  been  quite  away  from  horned 
cattle,  and  I  had  no  knowledge  of  the  art  of  managing 
them.  What  was  meant  by  the  "in  ox,"  as  against  the 
"  off  ox,"  when  both  were  equally  fastened  to  one  cart, 
and  under  one  yoke,  I  could  not  very  easily  divine ;  and 
the  difference  implied  by  the  names,  and  the  peculiar 
duties  of  each,  were  alike  Greek  to  me.  Why  was  not 
the  "off  ox"  called  the  "in  ox?"  Where  and  what  is 
the  reason  for  this  distinction  in  names,  when  there  is 
none  in  the  things  themselves  ?  After  initiating  me  into 
the  use  of  the  "whoa,"  "back,"  "gee,"  "hither," — the 
entire  language  spoken  between  oxen  and  driver, — Mr. 
Covey  took  a  rope  about  ten  feet  long  and  one  inch  thick, 
and  placed  one  end  of  it  around  the  horns  of  the  "in 
hand  ox,"  and  gave  the  other  end  to  me,  telling  me  that 
if  the  oxen  started  to  run  away  (as  the  scamp  knew  they 

144  THE   AMIABLE   MR.    COVEY. 

would),  I  must  hold  on  to  the  rope  and  stop  them.  I 
need  not  tell  any  one  who  is  acquainted  with  either  the 
strength  or  the  disposition  of  an  untamed  ox,  that 
this  order  was  about  as  unreasonable  as  a  command  to 
shoulder  a  mad  bull.  I  had  never  driven  oxen  before, 
and  I  was  as  awkward,  as  a  driver,  as  it  is  possible  to  con- 
ceive. I  could  not  plead  my  ignorance  to  Mr.  Covey ; 
there  was  that  in  his  manner  which  forbade  any  reply. 
Cold,  distant,  morose,  with  a  face  wearing  all  the  marks 
of  captious  pride  and  malicious  sternness,  he  repelled  all 
advances.  He  was  not  a  large  man — not  more  than  five 
feet  ten  inches  in  height,  I  should  think;  short-necked, 
round-shouldered,  of  quick  and  wiry  motion,  of  thin  and 
wolfish  visage,  with  a  pair  of  small,  greenish-gray  eyes, 
set  well  back  under  a  forehead  without  dignity,  and 
which  were  constantly  in  motion,  expressing  his  passions 
rather  than  his  thoughts,  in  sight,  but  denying  them  utter- 
ance in  words.  The  creature  presented  an  appearance 
altogether  ferocious  and  sinister,  disagreeable  and  for- 
bidding, in  the  extreme.  When  he  spoke,  it  was  from 
the  corner  of  his  mouth,  and  in  a  sort  of  light  growl  like 
a  dog,  when  an  attempt  is  made  to  take  a  bone  from  him. 
I  already  believed  him  a  worse  fellow  than  he  had  been 
represented  to  be.  With  his  directions,  and  without 
stopping  to  question,  I  started  for  the  woods,  quite  anx- 
ious to  perform  my  first  exploit  in  driving  in  a  creditable 
manner.  The  distance  from  the  house  to  the  wood's  gate 
— a  full  mile,  I  should  think — was  passed  over  with  little 
difficulty:  for,  although  the  animals  ran,  I  was  fleet 
enough  in  the  open  field  to  keep  pace  with  them,  especially 
as  they  pulled  me  along  at  the  end  of  the  rope ;  but  on 
reaching  the  woods,  I  was  speedily  thrown  into  a  distress- 
ing plight.  The  animals  took  fright,  and  started  off 
ferociously  into  the  woods,  carrying  the  cart  full  tilt 
against  trees,  over  stumps,  and  dashing  from  side  to  side 


in  a  manner  altogether  frightful.  As  I  held  the  rope  I 
expected  every  moment  to  be  crushed  between  the  cart 
and  the  huge  trees,  among  which  they  were  so  furiously 
dashing.  After  running  thus  for  several  minutes,  my 
oxen  were  finally  brought  to  a  stand  by  a  tree,  against 
which  they  dashed  themselves  with  great  violence,  upset- 
ting the  cart,  and  entangling  themselves  among  sundry 
young  saplings.  By  the  shock  the  body  of  the  cart  was 
flung  in  one  direction  and  the  wheels  and  tongue  in 
another,  and  all  in  the  greatest  confusion.  There  I  was, 
all  alone  in  a  thick  wood  to  which  I  was  a  stranger;  my 
cart  upset  and  shattered,  my  oxen  entangled,  wild  and 
enraged,  and  I,  poor  soul,  but  a  green  hand  to  set  all  this 
disorder  right.  I  knew  no  more  of  oxen  than  the  ox- 
driver  is  supposed  to  know  of  wisdom. 

After  standing  a  few  minutes,  surveying  the  damage, 
and  not  without  a  presentiment  that  this  trouble  would 
draw  after  it  others,  even  more  distressing,  I  took  one 
end  of  the  cart-body  and,  by  an  extra  outlay  of  strength, 
I  lifted  it  toward  the  axle-tree,  from  which  it  had  been 
violently  flung ;  and  after  much  pulling  and  straining,  I 
succeeded  in  getting  the  body  of  the  cart  in  its  place. 
This  was  an  important  step  out  of  the  difficulty,  and  its 
performance  increased  my  courage  for  the  work  which 
remained  to  be  done.  The  cart  was  provided  with  an  ax, 
a  tool  with  which  I  had  become  pretty  well  acquainted  in 
the  ship-yard  at  Baltimore.  With  this  I  cut  down  the 
saplings  by  which  my  oxen  were  entangled,  and  again 
pursued  my  journey,  with  my  heart  in  my  mouth,  lest  the 
oxen  should  again  take  it  into  their  senseless  heads  to 
cut  up  a  caper.  But  their  spree  was  over  for  the  present, 
and  the  rascals  now  moved  off  as  soberly  as  though 
their  behavior  had  been  natural  and  exemplary.  On 
reaching  the  part  of  the  forest  where  I  had  been  the  day 
before  chopping  wood,  I  filled  the  cart  with  a  heavy  load. 


tore  off  tlic  few  and  thinly  worn  clothes  I  had  on,  and 
proceeded  to  wear  out  on  my  back  the  heavy  goads  which 
lie  had  cut  from  the  gum  tree.  This  flogging  was  the 
first  of  a  series  of  floggings,  and  though  very  severe,  it 
was  less  so  than  many  which  came  after  it,  and  these  for 
offences  far  lighter  than  the  gate-breaking. 

I  remained  with  Mr.  Covey  one  year  (I  cannot  say  I 
lived  with  him),  and  during  the  first  six  months  that  I 
was  there  I  was  whipped,  either  with  sticks  or  cow-skins, 
every  week.  Aching  bones  and  a  sore  back  were  my 
constant  companions.  Frequent  as  the  lash  was  used, 
Mr.  Covey  thought  less  of  it  as  a  means  of  breaking 
down  my  spirit  than  that  of  hard  and  continued  labor. 
He  worked  me  steadily  up  to  the  point  of  my  powers  of 
endurance.  From  the  dawn  of  day  in  the  morning  till 
the  darkness  was  complete  in  the  evening  I  was  kept 
hard  at  work  in  the  field  or  the  woods.  At  certain  sea- 
sons of  the  year  we  were  all  kept  in  the  field  till  eleven 
and  twelve  o'clock  at  night.  At  these  times  Covey  would 
attend  us  in  the  field  and  urge  us  on  with  words  or  blows, 
as  it  seemed  best  to  him.  He  had  in  his  life  been  an 
overseer,  and  he  well  understood  the  business  of  slave- 
driving.  There  was  no  deceiving  him.  He  knew  just 
what  a  man  or  boy  could  do,  and  he  held  both  to  strict 
account.  When  he  pleased  he  would  work  himself  like 
a  very  Turk,  making  everything  fly  before  him.  It  was, 
however,  scarcely  necessary  for  Mr.  Covey  to  be  really 
present  in  the  field  to  have  his  work  go  on  industriously. 
He  had  the  faculty  of  making  us  feel  that  he  was 
always  present.  By  a  series  of  adroitly  managed  sur- 
prises which  he  practiced,  I  was  prepared  to  expect  him 
at  any  moment.  His  plan  was  never  to  approach  the 
spot  where  his  hands  were  at  work  in  an  open,  manly, 
and  direct  manner.  No  thief  was  ever  more  artful  in  his 
devices  than  this  man  Covey.     He  would  creep  and  crawl 


in  ditches  and  gullies,  hide  behind  stumps  and  bushes, 
and  practice  so  much  of  the  cunning  of  the  serpent,  that 
Bill  Smith  and  I,  between  ourselves,  never  called  him  by 
any  other  name  than  "  the  snake."  We  fancied  that  in 
his  eyes  and  his  gait  we  could  see  a  snakish  resemblance. 
One-half  of  his  proficiency  in  the  art  of  negro-breaking 
consisted,  I  should  think,  in  this  species  of  cunning.  We 
were  never  secure.  He  could  see  or  hear  us  nearly  all 
the  time.  He  was  to  us  behind  every  stump,  tree,  bush, 
and  fence  on  the  plantation.  He  carried  this  kind  of 
trickery  so  far  that  he  would  sometimes  mount  his  horse 
and  make  believe  he  was  going  to  St.  Michaels,  and  in 
thirty  minutes  afterwards  you  might  find  his  horse  tied 
in  the  woods,  and  the  snake-like  Covey  lying  flat  in  the 
ditcli  witli  his  head  lifted  above  its  edge,  or  in  a  fence- 
corner,  watching  every  movement  of  the  slaves.  I  have 
known  him  walk  up  to  us  and  give  us  special  orders  as 
to  our  work  in  advance,  as  if  he  were  leaving  home  with 
a  view  to  being  absent  several  days,  and  before  he  got 
half  way  to  the  house  he  would  avail  himself  of  our 
inattention  to  his  movements  to  turn  short  on  his  heel, 
conceal  himself  behind  a  fence-corner  or  a  tree,  and 
watch  us  until  the  going  down  of  the  sun.  Mean  and 
contemptible  as  is  all  this,  it  is  in  keeping  with  the  char- 
acter which  the  life  of  a  slaveholder  was  calculated  to 
produce.  There  w^as  no  eartlily  inducement  in  the  slave's 
condition  to  incite  him  to  labor  faithfully.  The  fear  of 
punishment  was  the  sole  motive  of  any  sort  of  industry 
with  him.  Knowing  this  fact  as  the  slaveholder  did,  and 
judging  the  slave  by  himself,  he  naturally  concluded  that 
the  slave  would  be  idle  whenever  the  cause  for  this  fear 
was  absent.  Hence  all  sorts  of  petty  deceptions  were 
practiced  to  inspire  fear. 

But  with  Mr.  Covey  trickery  was  natural.     Everything 
in  the  shape  of  learning  or  religion  which  he  possessed 

150  A   HYPOCRITE. 

was  made  to  conform  to  this  semi-lying  propensity.  He 
did  not  seem  conscious  that  the  practice  had  anything 
unmanly,  base,  or  contemptible  about  it.  It  was  a  part 
of  an  important  system  with  him,  essential  to  the  rela- 
tion of  master  and  slave.  I  thought  I  saw,  in  his  very 
religious  devotions,  this  controlling  element  of  his  char- 
acter. A  long  prayer  at  night  made  up  for  a  short 
prayer  in  the  morning,  and  few  men  could  seem  more 
devotional  than  he  when  he  had  nothing  else  to  do. 

Mr.  Covey  was  not  content  with  the  cold  style  of  family 
worship  adopted  in  the  cold  latitudes,  which  begin  and 
end  with  a  simple  prayer.  No !  the  voice  of  praise  as 
well  as  of  prayer  must  be  heard  in  his  house  night  and 
morning.  At  first  I  was  called  upon  to  bear  some  part 
of  these  exercises ;  but  the  repeated  floggings  given  me 
turned  the  whole  thing  into  mockery.  He  was  a  poor 
singer,  and  mainly  relied  on  me  for  raising  the  hymn  for 
the  family,  and  when  I  failed  to  do  so  he  was  thrown  into 
much  confusion.  I  do  not  think  he  ever  abused  me  on 
account  of  these  vexations.  His  religion  was  a  thing 
altogether  apart  from  his  worldly  concerns.  He  knew 
nothing  of  it  as  a  holy  principle  directing  and  controlling 
his  daily  life,  making  the  latter  conform  to  the  require- 
ments of  the  gospel.  One  or  two  facts  will  illustrate  his 
character  better  than  a  volume  of  generalities. 

I  have  already  implied  that  Mr.  Edward  Covey  was  a 
poor  man.  He  was,  in  fact,  just  commencing  to  lay  the 
foundation  of  his  fortune,  as  fortune  was  regarded  in  a 
slave  state.  The  first  condition  of  wealth  and  respecta- 
bility there  being  the  ownership  of  human  property,  every 
nerve  was  strained  by  the  poor  man  to  obtain  it,  with 
little  regard  sometimes  as  to  the  means.  In  pursuit  of 
this  object,  pious  as  Mr.  Covey  was,  he  proved  himself  as 
unscrupulous  and  base  as  the  worst  of  his  neighbors.  In 
the  beginning  he  was  only  able — as  he  said — "  to  buy  one 

A   HORRID   SYSTEM.  151 

slave;"  and  scandalous  and  shocking  as  is  the  fact,  he 
boasted  that  he  bought  her  simply  "  as  a  breeder.''  But 
the  worst  of  this  is  not  told  in  this  naked  statement. 
This  young  woman  (Caroline  was  her  name)  was  virtually 
compelled  by  Covey  to  abandon  herself  to  the  object  for 
which  he  had  purchased  her ;  and  the  result  was  the  birth 
of  twins  at  the  end  of  the  year.  At  this  addition  to  his 
human  stock  Covey  and  his  wife  were  ecstatic  with  joy. 
No  one  dreamed  of  reproaching  the  woman  or  finding 
fault  with  the  hired  man,  Bill  Smith,  the  father  of  the 
children,  for  Mr.  Covey  himself  had  locked  the  two  up 
together  every  night,  thus  inviting  the  result. 

But  I  will  pursue  this  revolting  subject  no  farther.  No 
better  illustration  of  the  unchaste,  demoralizing,  and  de- 
basing character  of  slavery  can  be  found,  than  is  fur- 
nished in  the  fact  that  this  professedly  Christian  slave- 
holder, amidst  all  his  prayers  and  hymns,  was  shamelessly 
and  boastfully  encouraging  and  actually  compelling,  in 
.his  own  house,  undisguised  and  unmitigated  fornication, 
as  a  means  of  increasing  his  stock.  It  was  the  system  of 
slavery  which  made  this  allowable,  and  which  condemned 
the  slaveholder  for  buying  a  slave  woman  and  devoting 
her  to  this  life,  no  more  than  for  buying  a  cow  and  raising 
stock  from  her,  and  the  same  rules  were  observed,  with  a 
view  to  increasing  the  number  and  quality  of  the  one,  as 
of  the  other. 

If  at  any  one  time  of  my  life,  more  than  another,  I 
was  made  to  drink  the  bitterest  dregs  of  slavery,  that 
time  was  during  the  first  six  months  of  my  stay  with 
this  man  Covey.  We  worked  all  weathers.  It  was  never 
too  hot,  or  too  cold;  it  could  never  rain,  blow,  snow, 
or  hail  too  hard  for  us  to  work  in  the  field.  Work, 
work,  work,  was  scarcely  more  the  order  of  the  day  than 
of  the  night.  The  longest  days  were  too  short  for  him, 
and  the  shortest  nights  were  too  long  for  him.     I  was 

154  I   AM   A   SLAVE. 

bewildered;  goaded  almost  to  madness  at  one  time,  and 
at  another  reconciling  myself  to  my  wretched  condition. 
All  the  kindness  I  had  received  at  Baltimore,  all  my  for- 
mer hopes  and  aspirations  for  usefulness  in  the  world, 
and  even  the  happy  moments  spent  in  the  exercises  of 
religion,  contrasted  with  my  then  present  lot,  served  but 
to  increase  my  anguish. 

I  suffered  bodily  as  well  as  mentally.  I  had  neither 
sufficient  time  in  which  to  eat,  of  to  sleep,  except  on 
Sundays.  The  over-work,  and  the  brutal  chastisements 
of  which  I  was  the  victim,  combined  with  that  ever- 
gnawing  and  soul-devouring  thought — '^  I  am  a  slave — a 
slave  for  life — a  slave  with  no  rational  ground  to  hope  for 
freedom  " — rendered  me  a  living  embodiment  of  mental 
and  physical  wretchedness. 



Experience  at  Covey's  summed  up — First  six  months  severer  than  the 
remaining  six — Preliminaries  to  the  change — Reasons  for  narrating 
the  circumstances — Scene  in  the  treading-yard — Author  taken  ill — 
Escapes  to  St.  Michaels — The  pursuit — Suffering  in  the  woods — 
Talk  with  Master  Thomas — His  beating — Driven  back  to  Covey's — 
The  slaves  never  sick — Natural  to  expect  them  to  feign  sickness — 
Laziness  of  slaveholders. 

THE  reader  has  but  to  repeat,  in  bis  mind,  once  a 
week  the  scene  in  the  woods,  where  Covey  subjected 
me  to  his  merciless  lash,  to  have  a  true  idea  of  my  bitter 
experience,  during  the  first  six  months  of  the  breaking 
process  through  which  he  carried  me.  I  have  no  heart 
to  repeat  each  separate  transaction.  Such  a  narration 
would  fill  a  volume  much  larger  than  the  present  one. 
I  aim  only  to  give  the  reader  a  truthful  impression  of 
my  slave-life,  without  unnecessarily  affecting  him  with 
harrowing  details. 

As  I  have  intimated  that  my  hardships  were  much 
greater  during  the  first  six  months  of  my  stay  at  Covey's 
than  during  the  remainder  of  the  year,  and  as  the  change 
in  my  condition  was  owing  to  causes  which  may  help  the 
reader  to  a  better  understanding  of  human  nature,  when 
subjected  to  the  terrible  extremities  of  slavery,  I  will 
narrate  the  circumstances  of  this  change,  although  I  may 
seem  thereby  to  applaud  my  own  courage. 

You  have,  dear  reader,  seen  me  humbled,  degraded, 
broken  down,  enslaved,  and  brutalized ;  and  you  under- 
stand how  it  was  done ;  now  let  us  see  the  converse  of 
all  this,  and  how  it  was  brought  about ;  and  this  will  take 
us  through  the  year  1834.  (155) 

156  TAKEN   SICK. 

On  one  of  the  hottest  days  of  the  month  of  August  of 
the  year  just  mentioned,  had  the  reader  been  passing 
through  Covey's  farm,  he  might  have  seen  me  at  work 
in  what  was  called  the  "treading-yard" — a  yard  upon 
wdiich  wheat  was  trodden  out  from  the  straw  by  the 
horses'  feet.  I  was  there  at  work  feeding  the  "fan,"  or 
rather  bringing  wheat  to  the  fan,  while  Bill  Smith  was 
feeding.  Our  force  consisted  of  Bill  Hughes,  Bill  Smith, 
and  a  slave  by  the  name  of  Eli,  the  latter  having  been 
hired  for  the  occasion.  The  work  was  simple,  and 
required  strength  and  activity,  rather  than  any  skill  or 
intelligence ;  and  yet  to  one  entirely  unused  to  such 
work,  it  came  very  hard.  The  heat  was  intense  and 
overpowering,  and  there  was  much  hurry  to  get  the  wheat 
trodden  out  that  day,  through  the  fan ;  since  if  that  work 
Avas  done  an  hour  before  sundown,  the  hands  would  have, 
according  to  a  promise  of  Covey,  that  hour  added  to  their 
night's  rest.  I  was  not  behind  any  of  them  in  the  wish 
to  complete  the  day's  work  before  sundown,  and  hence  I 
struggled  with  all  my  might  to  get  it  forward.  The 
promise  of  one  hour's  repose  on  a  week  day  was  sufficient 
to  quicken  my  pace,  and  to  spur  me  on  to  extra  endeavor. 
Besides,  we  had  all  planned  to  go  fishing,  and  I  certainly 
wished  to  have  a  hand  in  that.  But  I  was  disappointed, 
and  the  day  turned  out  to  be  one  of  the  bitterest  I  ever 
experienced.  About  three  o'clock,  while  the  sun  was 
pouring  down  his  burning  rays,  and  not  a  breeze  was 
stirring,  I  broke  down ;  my  strength  failed  me ;  I  was 
seized  with  a  violent  aching  of  the  head,  attended  with 
extreme  dizziness,  and  trembling  in  every  limb.  Finding 
what  was  coming,  and  feeling  it  would  never  do  to  stop 
work,  I  nerved  myself  up,  and  staggered  on,  until  I  fell 
by  the  side  of  the  wheat  fan,  with  a  feeling  that  the  earth 
had  fallen  in  upon  me.  This  brought  the  entire  work  to 
a  dead  stand.     There  was  work  for  four :  each  one  had 


his  part  to  perform,  and  each  part  depended  on  the  other, 
so  that  when  one  stopped,  all  were  compelled  to  stop. 
Covey,  who  had  become  my  dread,  was  at  the  house, 
about  a  hundred  yards  from  where  I  was  fanning,  and 
instantly,  upon  hearing  the  fan  stop,  he  came  down  to 
the  treading-yard  to  inquire  into  the  cause  of  the  stop- 
ping. Bill  Smith  told  him  I  was  sick,  and  that  I  was 
unable  longer  to  bring  wheat  to  the  fan. 

I  had  by  this  time  crawled  away  under  the  side  of  a 
post-and-rail  fence  in  the  shade,  and  was  exceedingly 
ill.  The  intense  heat  of  the  sun,  the  heavy  dust  rising 
from  the  fan,  tlie  stooping  to  take  up  the  wheat  from  the 
yard,  together  with  the  hurrying  to  get  through,  had 
caused  a  rush  of  blood  to  my  head.  In  this  condition 
Covey,  finding  out  where  I  was,  came  to  me  ;  and  after 
standing  over  me  a  while  he  asked  what  the  matter  was. 
I  told  him  as  well  as  I  could,  for  it  was  with  difficulty 
that  I  could  speak.  He  gave  me  a  savage  kick  in  the 
side  which  jarred  my  whole  frame,  and  commanded  me 
to  get  up.  The  monster  had  obtained  complete  control 
over  me,  and  if  he  had  commanded  me  to  do  any  possible 
thing  I  should,  in  my  then  state  of  mind,  have  endeav- 
ored to  comply.  I  made  an  effort  to  rise,  but  fell  back 
in  the  attempt  before  gaining  my  feet.  He  gave  me 
another  heavy  kick,  and  again  told  me  to  rise.  I  again 
tried,  and  succeeded  in  standing  up ;  but  upon  stooping 
to  get  the  tub  with  which  I  was  feeding  the  fan  I  again 
staggered  and  fell  to  the  ground  ;  and  I  must  have  so 
fallen  had  I  been  sure  that  a  hundred  bullets  would  have 
pierced  me  through  as  the  consequence.  While  down  in 
this  sad  condition,  and  perfectly  helpless,  the  merciless 
negro-breaker  took  up  the  hickory  slab  with  which 
Hughes  had  been  striking  off  the  wheat  to  a  level  with 
the  sides  of  the  half-bushel  measure  (a  very  hard  weapon), 
and  with  the  edge  of  it  he  dealt  me  a  heavy  blow  on  my 


head  which  made  a  large  gash,  and  caused  the  blood  to 
run  freely,  saying  at  the  same  time,  "  If  you  have  got  the 
headache  I'll  cure  you."  This  done,  he  ordered  me 
again  to  rise,  but  I  made  no  effort  to  do  so,  for  I  had  now 
made  up  my  mind  that  it  was  useless,  and  the  heartless 
villain  might  do  his  worst,  he  could  but  kill  me  and 
that  might  put  me  out  of  my  misery.  Finding  me  unable 
to  rise,  or  rather  despairing  of  my  doing  so.  Covey  left 
me,  with  a  view  to  getting  on  with  the  work  without 
me.  I  was  bleeding  very  freely,  and  my  face  was  soon 
covered  with  my  warm  blood.  Cruel  and  merciless  as  was 
the  motive  that  dealt  that  blow,  the  wound  was  a  fortu- 
nate one  for  me.  Bleedino;  was  never  more  efficacious. 
The  pain  in  my  head  speedily  abated,  and  I  was  soon 
able  to  rise.  Covey  had,  as  I  have  said,  left  me  to  my 
fate,  and  the  question  was,  shall  I  return  to  my  work,  or 
shall  I  find  my  way  to  St.  Michaels  and  make  Capt. 
Auld  acquainted  with  the  atrocious  cruelty  of  his  brother 
Covey,  and  beseech  him  to  get  me  another  master  ? 
Eemembering  the  object  he  had  in  view  in  placing  me 
under  the  management  of  Covey,  and  further,  his  cruel 
treatment  of  my  poor  crippled  cousin  Henny,  and  his 
meanness  in  the  matter  of  feeding  and  clothing  his  slaves, 
there  was  little  ground  to  hope  for  a  favorable  reception 
at  the  hands  of  Capt.  Thomas  Auld.  Nevertheless,  I 
resolved  to  go  straight  to  him,  thinking  that,  if  not  ani- 
mated by  motives  of  humanity,  he  might  be  induced  to 
interfere  on  my  behalf  from  selfish  considerations.  "He 
cannot,"  I  thought,  "allow  his  property  to  be  thus  bruised 
and  battered,  marred  and  defaced,  and  I  will  go  to  him 
about  the  matter."  In  order  to  get  to  St.  Michaels  by 
the  most  favorable  and  direct  road  I  must  walk  seven 
miles,  and  this,  in  my  sad  condition,  was  no  easy  per- 
formance. I  had  already  lost  much  blood,  I  was 
exhausted  by  over-exertion,  my  sides  were  sore  from  the 

ESCAPES.  159 

heavy  blows  planted  there  by  the  stout  boots  of  Mr. 
Covey,  and  I  was  in  every  way  in  an  unfavorable  plight 
for  the  journey.  I  however  watched  my  chance  while, 
the  cruel  and  cunning  Covey  was  looking  in  an  opposite 
direction,  and  started  off  across  the  field  for  St.  Michaels. 
This  was  a  daring  step.  If  it  failed  it  would  only  exas- 
perate Covey,  and  increase  the  rigors  of  my  bondage 
during  the  remainder  of  my  term  of  service  under  him  ; 
but  the  step  was  taken,  and  I  must  go  forward.  I 
succeeded  in  getting  nearly  half  way  across  the  broad 
field  toward  the  woods,  when  Covey  observed  me.  I 
was  still  bleeding,  and  the  exertion  of  running  had  started 
the  blood  afresh.  "Come  hack!  Come  hackP^  he  vocifera- 
ted, with  threats  of  what  he  would  do  if  I  did  not  return 
instantly.  But  disregarding  his  calls  and  threats,  I 
pressed  on  toward  the  woods  as  fast  as  my  feeble  state 
would  allow.  Seeing  no  signs  of  my  stopping  he  caused 
his  horse  to  be  brought  out  and  saddled,  as  if  he  intended 
to  pursue  me.  The  race  was  now  to  be  an  unequal  one, 
and  thinking  I  might  be  overhauled  by  him  if  I  kept  the 
main  road,  I  walked  nearly  the  whole  distance  in  the 
woods,  keeping  far  enough  from  the  road  to  avoid  detec- 
tion and  pursuit.  But  I  had  not  gone  far  before  my 
little  strength  again  failed  me,  and  I  was  obliged  to  lie 
down.  The  blood  was  still  oozing  from  the  wound  in  my 
head,  and  for  a  time  I  suffered  more  than  I  can  describe. 
There  I  was  in  the  deep  woods,  sick  and  emaciated,  pur- 
sued by  a  wretch  whose  character  for  revolting  cruelty 
beggars  all  opprobrious  speech,  bleeding  and  almost  blood- 
less. I  was  not  without  the  fear  of  bleeding  to  death. 
The  thought  of  dying  in  the  woods  all  alone,  and  of  being 
torn  in  pieces  by  the  buzzards,  had  not  yet  been  rendered 
tolerable  by  my  many  troubles  and  hardships,  and  I  was 
glad  when  the  shade  of  the  trees  and  the  cool  evening 
breeze  combined  with  my  matted  hair  to  stop  the  flow  of 


blood.  After  lying  there  about  three-quarters  of  an  hour 
brooding  over  the  singular  and  mournful  lot  to  which  I 
was  doomed,  my  mind  passing  over  the  whole  scale  or 
circle  of  belief  and  unbelief,  from  faith  in  the  overruling 
Providence  of  God,  to  the  blackest  atheism,  I  again 
took  up  my  journey  toward  St.  Michaels,  more  weary  and 
sad  than  on  the  morning  when  I  left  Thomas  Auld's  for 
the  home  of  Covey.  I  was  bare-footed,  bare-headed,  and 
in  my  shirt-sleeves.  The  way  was  through  briers  and 
bogs,  and  I  tore  my  feet  often  during  the  journey.  I  was 
full  five  hours  in  going  the  seven  or  eight  miles  ;  partly 
because  of  the  difficulties  of  the  way,  and  partly  because 
of  the  feebleness  induced  by  my  illness,  bruises,  and  loss 
of  blood. 

On  gaining  my  master's  store,  I  presented  an  appear- 
ance of  wretchedness  and  woe  calculated  to  move  any  but 
a  heart  of  stone.  From  the  crown  of  my  head  to  the  sole 
of  my  feet,  there  were  marks  of  blood.  My  hair  was  all 
clotted  with  dust  and  blood,  and  the  back  of  my  shirt  was 
literally  stiff  with  the  same.  Briers  and  thorns  had  scarred 
and  torn  my  feet  and  legs.  Had  I  escaped  from  a  den  of 
tigers,  I  could  not  have  looked  worse.  In  this  plight  I 
appeared  before  my  professedly  Christian  master,  humbly 
to  invoke  the  interposition  of  his  power  and  authority,  to 
protect  me  from  further  abuse  and  violence.  During  the 
latter  part  of  my  tedious  journey  I  had  begun  to  hope 
that  my  master  would  now  show  himself  in  a  nobler  light 
than  I  had  before  seen  him.  But  I  was  disappointed.  I 
had  jumped  from  a  sinking  ship  into  the  sea;  I  had  fled 
from  a  tiger  to  something  worse.  I  told  him  all  the  cir- 
cumstances, as  well  as  I  could :  how  I  was  endeavoring 
to  please  Covey ;  how  hard  I  was  at  work  in  the  present 
instance ;  how  unwillingly  I  sank  down  under  the  heat, 
toil,  and  pain ;  the  brutal  manner  in  which  Covey  had 
kicked  me  in  the  side,  the  gash  cut  in  my  head;  my  hesi- 


tation  about  troubling  him  (Capt.  Auld)  with  complaints ; 
but  that  now  I  felt  it  would  not  be  best  longer  to  conceal 
from  him  the  outrages  committed  on  me  from  time  to 
time.  At  first  Master  Thomas  seemed  somewhat  affected 
by  the  story  of  my  wrongs,  but  he  soon  repressed  what- 
ever feeling  he  may  have  had,  and  became  as  cold  and 
hard  as  iron.  It  was  impossible,  at  first ^  as  I  stood  before 
him,  to  seem  indifferent.  I  distinctly  saw  his  human 
nature  asserting  its  conviction  against  the  slave  system, 
which  made  cases  like  mine  i^ossihle;  but,  as  I  have  said, 
humanity  fell  before  the  systematic  tyranny  of  slavery. 
He  first  walked  the  floor,  apparently  much  agitated  by  my 
story,  and  the  spectacle  I  presented ;  but  soon  it  was  his 
turn  to  talk.  He  began  moderately  by  finding  excuses 
for  Covey,  and  ended  with  a  full  justification  of  him,  and 
a  passionate  condemnation  of  me.  He  had  no  doubt  I 
deserved  the  flogging.  He  did  not  believe  I  was  sick ;  I 
was  only  endeavoring  to  get  rid  of  work.  My  dizziness 
was  laziness,  and  Covey  did  right  to  flog  me  as  he  had 
done.  After  thus  fairly  annihilating  me,  and  arousing 
himself  by  his  eloquence,  he  fiercely  demanded  what  I 
wished  him  to  do  in  the  case !  With  such  a  knock-down 
to  all  my  hopes,  and  feeling  as  I  did  my  entire  subjection 
to  his  power,  I  had  very  little  heart  to  reply.  I  must  not 
assert  my  innocence  of  the  allegations  he  had  piled  up 
against  me,  for  that  would  be  impudence.  The  guilt  of 
a  slave  was  always  and  everywhere  presumed,  and  the 
innocence  of  the  slaveholder,  or  employer,  was  always 
asserted.  The  word  of  the  slave  against  this  presumption 
was  generally  treated  as  impudence,  worthy  of  punisli- 
]naent.  "  Do  you  dare  to  contradict  me,  you  rascal  ? "  was 
a  final  silencer  of  counter-statements  from  the  lips  of  a 
slave.  Calming  down  a  little,  in  view  of  my  silence  and 
hesitation,  and  perhaps  a  little  touched  at  my  forlorn  and 
miserable  appearance,  he  inquired  again,  what  I  wanted 

162  IS   DRIVEN   BACK. 

liim  to  do  ?  Tims  invited  a  second  time,  I  told  him  I 
wished  him  to  allow  me  to  get  a  new  home,  and  to  find  a 
new  master;  that  as  sure  as  I  went  back  to  live  again 
with  Mr.  Covey,  I  should  be  killed  by  him ;  that  he  Avould 
never  forgive  my  coming  home  with  complaints;  that 
since  I  had  lived  with  him  he  had  almost  crushed  my 
spirit,  and  I  believed  he  would  ruin  me  for  future  service, 
and  that  my  life  was  not  safe  in  his  hands.  This  Master 
Thomas  (iny  brother  in  the  church)  regarded  as  "  non- 
sense." There  was  no  danger  that  Mr.  Covey  would  kill 
me;  he  was  a  good  man,  industrious  and  religious;  and 
he  would  not  think  of  removing  me  from  that  home; 
"  besides,"  said  he — and  this  I  found  was  the  most  dis- 
tressing thought  of  all  to  him — "  if  you  should  leave 
Covey  now  that  your  year  is  but  half  expired,  I  should 
lose  your  wages  for  the  entire  year.  You  belong  to  Mr. 
Covey  for  one  year,  and  you  must  go  bach  to  him,  come 
what  will;  and  you  must  not  trouble  me  with  any  more 
stories;  and  if  you  don't  go  immediately  home,  I'll  get 
hold  of  you  myself."  This  was  just  what  I  expected 
when  I  found  he  had  prejudged  the  case  against  me. 
"  But,  sir,"  I  said,  "  I  am  sick  and  tired,  and  I  cannot  get 
home  to-night."  At  this  he  somewhat  relented,  and 
finally  allowed  me  to  stay  the  night,  but  said  I  must  be 
off  early  in  the  morning,  and  concluded  his  directions  by 
making  me  swallow  a  huge  dose  of  Epsom  salts,  which 
was  about  the  only  medicine  ever  administered  to  slaves. 
It  was  quite  natural  for  Master  Thomas  to  presume  I 
was  feigning  sickness  to  escape  work,  for  he  probably 
thought  that  were  he  in  the  place  of  a  slave,  with  no 
wages  for  his  work,  no  praise  for  well-doing,  no  motive 
for  toil  but  the  lash,  he  would  try  every  possible  scheme 
by  which  to  escape  labor.  I  say  I  have  no  doubt  of  this ; 
the  reason  is,  that  there  were  not,  under  the  whole  heav- 
ens, a  set  of  men  who  cultivated  such  a  dread  of  labor  as 


did  the  slaveholders.  The  charge  of  laziness  against  the 
slaves  was  ever  on  their  lips,  and  was  the  standing 
apology  for  every  species  of  cruelty  and  brutality.  These 
men  did  indeed  literally  "  bind  heavy  burdens,  grievous 
to  be  borne,  and  laid  them  upon  men's  shoulders,  but  they 
themselves  would  not  move  them  with  one  of  their 



A  sleepless  night — Return  to  Covey's — Punished  by  him — The  chase 
defeated — Vengeance  postponed — Musings  in  the  woods — The  al- 
ternative— Deplorable  spectacle — Night  in  the  woods — Expected 
attack — Accosted  by  Sandy — A  friend,  not  a  master — Sandy's  hos- 
pitality— The  ash-cake  supper — Interview  with  Sandy — His  advice 
— Sandy  a  conjuror  as  well  as  a  Christian — The  magic  root — 
Strange  meeting  with  Covey — His  manner — Covey's  Sunday  face — 
Author's  defensive  resolve — The  fight — The  victory,  and  its  results. 

SLEEP  does  not  always  come  to  the  relief  of  the  weary 
in  body,  and  broken  in  spirit ;  especially  is  it  so  when 
past  troubles  only  foreshadow  coming  disasters.  My  last 
hope  had  been  extinguished.  My  master,  who  I  did  not 
venture  to  hope  would  protect  me  as  a  man,  had  now 
refused  to  protect  me  as  his  property^  and  had  cast  me 
back,  covered  with  reproaches  and  bruises,  into  the  hands 
of  one  who  was  a  stranger  to  that  mercy  which  is  the 
soul  of  the  religion  he  professed.  May  the  reader  never 
know  what  it  is  to  spend  such  a  night  as  was  that  to  me, 
which  heralded  my  return  to  the  den  of  horrors  from 
which  I  had  made  a  temporary  escape. 

I  remained — sleep  I  did  not — all  night  at  St.  Michaels, 
and  in  the  morning  (Saturday)  I  started  off,  obedient  to 
the  order  of  Master  Thomas,  feeling  that  I  had  no  friend 
on  earth,  and  doubting  if  I  had  one  in  heaven.  I  reached 
Covey's  about  nine  o'clock ;  and  just  as  I  stepped  into 
the  field,  before  I  had  reached  the  house,  true  to  his 
snakish  habits.  Covey  darted  out  at  me  from  a  fence 
corner,  in  which  he  had  secreted  himself  for  the  purpose 
of  securing  me.     He  was  provided  with  a  cowskin  and  a 


IN   THE   WOODS.  165 

rope,  and  he  evidently  intended  to  tie  me  up,  and  wreak 
his  vengeance  on  me  to  the  fullest  extent.  I  should  have 
been  an  easy  prey  had  he  succeeded  in  getting  his  hands 
upon  me,  for  I  had  taken  no  refreshment  since  noon 
on  Friday ;  and  this,  with  the  other  trying  circumstances, 
had  greatly  reduced  my  strength.  I,  however,  darted 
back  into  the  woods  before  the  ferocious  hound  could 
reach  me,  and  buried  myself  in  a  thicket,  where  he  lost 
sight  of  me.  The  cornfield  afforded  me  shelter  in  get- 
ting to  the  woods.  But  for  the  tall  corn.  Covey  would 
have  overtaken  me,  and  made  me  his  captive.  He  was 
much  chagrined  that  he  did  not,  p;nd  gave  up  the  chase 
very  reluctantly,  as  I  could  see  by  Ills  angry  movements, 
as  he  returned  to  the  house. 

Well,  now  I  am  clear  of  Covey\and  his  lash  for  a  little 
time.  I  am  in  the  wood,  buried  in  its  somber  gloom, 
and  hushed  in  its  solemn  silence ;  hidden  from  all  human 
eyes,  shut  in  with  nature,  and  with  nature's  God,  and 
absent  from  all  human  contrivances.  Here  was  a  good 
place  to  pray  ;  to  pray  for  help,  for  deliverance — a  prayer 
I  had  often  made  before.  But  how  could  I  pray  ?  Covey 
could  pray — Capt.  Auld  could  pray.  I  would  fain  pray ; 
but  doubts  arising,  partly  from  my  neglect  of  the  means 
of  grace,  and  partly  from  the  sham  religion  which  every- 
where prevailed,  cast  in  my  mind  a  doubt  upon  all  relig- 
ion, and  led  me  to  the  conviction  that  prayers  were  una- 
vailing and  delusive. 

Life  in  itself  had  almost  become  burdensome  to  me.  All 
my  outward  relations  were  against  me ;  I  must  stay  here 
and  starve,  or  go  home  to  Covey's  and  have  my  flesh  torn 
to  pieces  and  my  spirit  humbled  under  the  cruel  lash  of 
Covey.  These  were  the  alternatives  before  me.  The 
day  was  long  and  irksome.  I  was  weak  from  the  toils  of 
the  previous  day,  and  from  want  of  food  and  sleep,  and  I 
had  been  so  little  concerned  about  my  appearance  that  I 

1G6  HE   HEARS   A   STEP. 

had  not  yet  washed  the  blood  from  my  garments.  I  was 
an  object  of  horror,  even  to  myself.  Life  in  Baltimore, 
when  most  oppressive,  was  a  paradise  to  this.  What 
had  I  done,  what  had  my  parents  done,  that  such  a  life 
as  this  should  be  mine?  That  day,  in  the  woods,  I  would 
have  exchanged  my  manhood  for  the  brutehood  of  an  ox. 

Night  came.  I  was  still  in  the  woods,  and  still  unre- 
solved what  to  do.  Hunger  had  not  yet  pinched  me  to 
the  point  of  going  home,  and  I  laid  myself  down  in  the 
leaves  to  rest ;  for  I  had  been  watching  for  hunters  all 
day,  but  not  being  molested  by  them  during  the  day,  I 
expected  no  disturbance  from  them  during  the  night.  I 
had  come  to  the  conclusion  that  Covey  relied  upon  hun- 
ger to  drive  me  home,  and  in  this  I  was  quite  correct, 
for  he  made  no  effort  to  catch  me  after  the  morning. 

During  the  night  I  heard  the  step  of  a  man  in  the 
woods.  He  was  coming  toward  the  place  where  I  lay.  A 
person  lying  still  has  the  advantage  over  one  walking  in 
the  woods  in  the  day-time,  and  this  advantage  is  much 
greater  at  night.  I  was  not  able  to  engage  in  a  physical 
struggle,  and  I  had  recourse  to  the  common  resort  of  the 
weak.  I  hid  myself  in  the  leaves  to  prevent  discovery. 
But  as  the  night  rambler  in  the  woods  drew  nearer  I 
found  him  to  be  a  friend^  not  an  enemy,  a  slave  of  Mr. 
William  Groomes  of  Easton,  a  kind-hearted  fellow  named 
"Sandy."  Sandy  I'ved  with  Mr.  Kemp  that  year,  about 
four  miles  from  St.  Michaels.  He,  like  myseK,  had  been 
hired  out  that  year,  but  unlike  myself  had  not  been  hired 
out  to  be  broken.  He  was  the  husband  of  a  free  woman 
who  lived  in  the  lower  part  of  "Poppie  Neck,"  and  he 
was  now  on  his  way  through  the  woods  to  see  her  and  to 
spend  the  Sabbath  with  her. 

As  soon  as  I  had  ascertained  that  the  disturber  of  my 
solitude  was  not  an  enemy,  but  the  good-hearted  Sandy 
— a  man  as  famous  among  the  slaves  of  the  neighbor- 

HIS   OLD    FRIEND   SANDY.  169 

hood  for  his  good  nature  as  for  his  good  sense — I  came 
out  from  my  hiding-place  and  made  myself  known  to  him. 
I  explained  the  circumstances  of  the  past  two  days  which 
had  driven  me  to  the  woods,  and  he  deeply  compassion- 
ated my  distress.  It  was  a  bold  thing  for  him  to  shelter 
me,  and  I  could  not  ask  him  to  do  so,  for  had  I  been 
found  in  his  hut  he  would  have  suffered  the  penalty  of 
thirty-nine  lashes  on  his  bare  back,  if  not  something 
worse.  But  Sandy  was  too  generous  to  permit  the  fear 
of  punishment  to  prevent  his  relieving  a  brother  bond- 
man from  hunger  and  exposure,  and  therefore,  on  his 
own  motion,  1  accompanied  him  home  to  his  wife — for 
the  house  and  lot  w^ere  hers,  as  she  was  a  free  woman. 
It  was  about  midnight,  but  his  wife  was  called  up,  a  fire 
was  made,  some  Indian  meal  was  soon  mixed  with  salt 
and  water,  and  an  ash-cake  was  baked  in  a  hurry,  to 
relieve  my  hunger.  Sandy's  wife  was  not  behind  him  in 
kindness ;  both  seemed  to  esteem  it  a  privilege  to  succor 
me,  for  although  I  was  hated  by  Covey  and  by  my  master 
I  was  loved  by  the  colored  people,  because  they  thought 
I  was  hated  for  my  knowledge,  and  persecuted  because  I 
was  feared.  I  was  the  only  slave  in  that  region  who 
could  read  or  write.  There  had  been  one  other  man, 
belonging  to  Mr.  Hugh  Hamilton,  who  could  read,  but  he, 
poor  fellow,  had,  shortly  after  coming  into  the  neighbor- 
hood, been  sold  off  to  the  far  south.  I  saw  him  ironed, 
in  the  cart,  to  be  carried  to  Easton  for  sale,  pinioned  like 
a  yearling  for  the  slaughter.  My  knowledge  was  now 
the  pride  of  my  brother  slaves,  and  no  doubt  Sandy  felt 
something  of  the  general  interest  in  me  on  that  account. 
The  supper  was  soon  ready,  and  though  I  have  since 
feasted  with  honorables,  lord  mayors,  and  aldermen  over 
the  sea,  my  supper  on  ash-cake  and  cold  water,  with 
Sandy,  was  the  meal  of  all  my  life  most  sweet  to  my 
taste,  and  now  most  vivid  to  my  memory. 

170  A   MAGIC   BOOT. 

Supper  over,  Sandy  and  I  went  into  a  discussion  of 
what  was  possible  for  me,  under  the  perils  and  hardships 
which  overshadowed  my  path.  The  question  was,  must 
I  go  back  to  Covey,  or  must  I  attempt  to  run  away  ? 
Upon  a  careful  survey  the  latter  was  found  to  be  impossi- 
ble ;  for  I  was  on  a  narrow  neck  of  land,  every  avenue  from 
which  would  bring  me  in  sight  of  pursuers.  There  was 
Chesapeake  Bay  to  the  right,  and  "Pot-pie"  river  to  the 
left,  and  St.  Michaels  and  its  neighborhood  occupied  the 
only  space  through  which  there  was  any  retreat. 

I  found  Sandy  an  old  adviser.  He  was  not  only  a 
religious  man,  but  he  professed  to  believe  in  a  system  for 
which  I  have  no  name.  He  was  a  genuine  African,  and 
had  inherited  some  of  the  so-called  magical  powers  said 
to  be  possessed  by  the  eastern  nations.  He  told  me  that 
he  could  help  me ;  that  in  those  very  woods  there  was  an 
herb  which  in  the  morning  might  be  found,  possessing 
all  the  powers  required  for  my  protection  (I  put  his 
words  in  my  own  language),  and  that  if  I  would  take  his 
advice  he  would  procure  me  the  root  of  the  herb  of  which 
he  spoke.  He  told  me,  further,  that  if  I  would  take  that 
root  and  wear  it  on  my  right  side  it  would  be  impossible 
for  Covey  to  strike  me  a  blow ;  that  with  this  root  about 
my  person  no  white  man  could  whip  me.  He  said  he 
had  carried  it  for  years,  and  that  he  had  fully  tested  its 
virtues.  He  had  never  received  a  blow  from  a  slave- 
holder since  he  carried  it,  and  he  never  expected  to 
receive  one,  for  he  meant  always  to  carry  that  root  for 
protection.  He  knew  Covey  well,  for  Mrs.  Covey  was 
the  daughter  of  Mrs.  Kemp ;  and  he  (Sandy)  had  heard 
of  the  barbarous  treatment  to  which  I  had  been  subjected, 
and  he  wanted  to  do  something  for  me. 

Now  all  this  talk  about  the  root  was  to  me  very  absurd 
and  ridiculous,  if  not  positively  sinful.  I  at  first  rejected 
the  idea  that  the  simple  carrying  a  root  on  my  right  side 

HE   RETURNS   TO    COVEY'S.  171 

(a  root,  by  the  way,  over  which  I  walked  every  time  I 
went  into  the  woods)  could  possess  any  such  magic  power 
as  he  ascribed  to  it,  and  I  was,  therefore,  not  disposed  to 
cumber  my  pocket  with  it.  I  had  a  positive  aversion  to 
all  pretenders  to  '-'divination.''''  It  was  beneath  one  of 
my  intelligence  to  countenance  such  dealings  with  the 
devil  as  this  power  implied.  But  with  all  my  learning — 
it  was  really  precious  little — Sandy  was  more  than  a  match 
for  me.  "My  book-learning,"  he  said,  "had  not  kept 
Covey  off  me"  (a  powerful  argument  just  then),  and  he 
entreated  me,  with  flashing  eyes,  to  try  this.  If  it  did 
me  no  good  it  could  do  me  no  harm,  and  it  would  cost 
me  nothing  any  way.  Sandy  was  so  earnest  and  so  con- 
fident of  the  good  qualities  of  this  weed  that,  to  please 
him,  I  was  induced  to  take  it.  He  had  been  to  me  the 
good  Samaritan,  and  had,  almost  providentially,  found 
me  and  helped  me  when  I  could  not  help  myself ;  how 
did  I  know  but  that  the  hand  of  the  Lord  was  in  it  ? 
With  thoughts  of  this  sort  I  took  the  roots  from  Sandy 
and  put  them  in  my  right-hand  pocket. 

This  was  of  course  Sunday  morning.  Sandy  now 
urged  me  to  go  home  with  all  speed,  and  to  walk  up 
bravely  to  the  house,  as  though  nothing  had  happened. 
I  saw  in  Sandy  too  deep  an  insight  into  human  nature, 
with  all  his  superstition,  not  to  have  some  respect  for  his 
advice ;  and  perhaps,  too,  a  slight  gleam  or  shadow  of  his 
superstition  had  fallen  on  me.  At  any  rate,  I  started  off 
toward  Covey's,  as  directed.  Having,  the  previous  night, 
poured  my  griefs  into  Sandy's  ears  and  enlisted  him  in 
my  behalf,  having  made  his  wife  a  sharer  in  my  sorrows, 
and  having  also  become  well  refreshed  by  sleep  and  food, 
I  moved  off  quite  courageously  toward  the  dreaded 
Covey's.  Singularly  enough,  just  as  I  entered  the  yard- 
gate  I  met  him  and  his  wife,  dressed  in  their  Sunday 
best,  looking  as  smiling  as  angels,  on  their  way  to  church. 

172  PIOUS   COVEY. 

His  manner  perfectly  astonished  me.  There  was  some- 
thing really  benignant  in  his  countenance.  He  spoke  to 
me  as  never  before,  told  me  that  the  pigs  had  got  into  the 
lot  and  he  wished  me  to  go  to  drive  them  out ;  inquired 
how  I  was.  and  seemed  an  altered  man.  This  extraordi- 
nary conduct  really  made  me  begin  to  think  that  Sandy's 
herb  had  more  virtue  in  it  than  I,  in  my  pride,  had  been 
willing  to  allow,  and  had  the  day  been  other  than  Sunday 
I  should  have  attributed  Covey's  altered  manner  solely  to 
the  power  of  the  root.  1  suspected,  however,  that  the 
jSahhath,  not  the  root,  was  the  real  explanation  of  the 
change.  His  religion  hindered  him  from  breaking  the 
Sabbath,  but  not  from  breaking  my  skin  on  any  other  day 
than  Sunday.  He  had  more  respect  for  the  day  than  for 
the  man  for  whom  the  day  was  mercifully  given ;  for 
while  he  would  cut  and  slash  my  body  during  the  week, 
he  would  on  Sunday  teach  me  the  value  of  my  soul,  and 
the  way  of  life  and  salvation  by  Jesus  Christ. 

All  went  well  with  me  till  Monday  morning ;  and  then, 
whether  the  root  had  lost  its  virtue,  or  whether  my  tor- 
mentor had  gone  deeper  into  the  black  art  than  I  had  (as 
was  sometimes  said  of  him),  or  whether  he  had  obtained 
a  special  indulgence  for  his  faithful  Sunday's  worship,  it 
is  not  necessary  for  me  to  know  or  to  inform  the  reader ; 
but  this  much  I  may  say,  the  pious  and  benignant  smile 
which  graced  the  face  of  Covey  on  Sunday  wholly  disap- 
peared on  Monday. 

Long  before  daylight  I  was  called  up  to  go  feed,  rub, 
and  curry  the  horses.  I  obeyed  the  call,  as  I  should  have 
done  had  it  been  made  at  an  earlier  hour,  for  I  had 
brought  my  mind  to  a  firm  resolve  during  that  Sunday's 
reflection  to  obey  every  order,  however  unreasonable,  if  it 
were  possible,  and  if  Mr.  Covey  should  then  undertake  to 
beat  me  to  defend  and  protect  myself  to  the  best  of  my 
ability.     My  religious  views  on  the  subject  of   resisting 

A   FIERCE   BATTLE.  173 

my  master  had  suffered  a  serious  shock  by  the  savage 
persecution  to  which  I  had  been  subjected,  and  my  hands 
were  no  longer  tied  by  my  religion.  Master  Thomas's  indif- 
ference had  severed  the  last  link.  I  had  backslidden 
from  this  point  in  the  slaves'  religious  creed,  and  I  soon 
had  occasion  to  make  my  fallen  state  known  to  my  Sun- 
day-pious brother.  Covey. 

While  I  w^as  obeying  his  order  to  feed  and  get  the 
horses  ready  for  the  field,  and  when  I  was  in  the  act  of 
going  up  the  stable-loft,  for  the  purpose  of  throwing  down 
some  blades,  Covey  sneaked  into  the  stable,  in  his  pecul- 
iar way,  and  seizing  me  suddenly  by  the  leg,  he  brought 
me  to  the  stable-floor,  giving  my  newly-mended  body  a 
terrible  jar.  I  now  forgot  all  about  my  roots ^  and  remem- 
bered my  pledge  to  stand  up  in  my  own  defense.  The 
brute  was  skillfully  endeavoring  to  get  a  slip-knot  on  my 
legs,  before  I  could  draw  up  my  feet.  As  soon  as  I  found 
what  he  was  up  to,  I  gave  a  sudden  spring  (my  two  days' 
rest  had  been  of  much  service  to  me)  and  by  that  means, 
no  doubt,  he  was  able  to  bring  me  to  the  floor  so  heavily. 
He  was  defeated  in  his  plan  of  tying  me.  While  down, 
he  seemed  to  think  he  had  me  very  securely  in  his  power. 
He  little  thought  he  was  —  as  the  rowdies  say  —  "  in  " 
for  a  "rough  and  tumble"  fight;  but  such  was  the  fact. 
Whence  came  the  daring  spirit  necessary  to  grapple  with 
a  man  who,  eight-and-forty  hours  before,  could,  with  his 
slightest  word,  have  made  me  tremble  like  a  leaf  in  a 
storm,  I  do  not  know ;  at  any  rate,  I  was  resolved  to  fight, 
and  what  was  better  still,  I  actually  was  hard  at  it.  The 
fighting  madness  had  come  upon  me,  and  I  found  my 
strong  fingers  firmly  attached  to  the  throat  of  the  tyrant, 
as  heedless  of  consequences,  at  the  moment,  as  if  we  stood 
as  equals  before  the  law.  The  very  color  of  the  man  was 
forgotten.  I  felt  supple  as  a  cat,  and  was  ready  for  him 
at  every  turn.     Every  blow  of  his  was  parried,  though  I 

174  TOO    MUCH    FOR   COVEY. 

dealt  no  blows  in  return.  I  was  strictly  on  the  defensive, 
preventing  him  from  injuring  me,  rather  than  trying  to 
injure  him.  I  flung  him  on  the  ground  several  times 
when  he  meant  to  have  hurled  me  there.  I  held  him  so 
firmly  by  the  throat  that  his  blood  followed  my  nails.  He 
held  me,  and  I  held  him. 

All  was  fair  thus  far,  and  the  contest  was  about  equal. 
My  resistance  was  entirely  unexpected,  and  Covey  was 
taken  all  aback  by  it,  and  he  trembled  in  every  limb. 
''Are  you  going  to  resist,  you  scoundrel?"  said  he.  To 
which  I  returned  a  polite  "  Yes,  sir,^^  steadily  gazing  my 
interrogator  in  the  eye,  to  meet  the  first  approach  or 
dawning  of  the  blow  which  I  expected  my  answer  would 
call  forth.  But  the  conflict  did  not  long  remain  equal. 
Covey  soon  cried  lustily  for  help ;  not  that  I  was  obtain- 
ing any  marked  advantage  over  him,  or  was  injuring  him, 
but  because  he  was  gaining  none  over  me,  and  was  not 
able,  single-handed,  to  conquer  me.  He  called  for  his 
cousin  Hughes  to  come  to  his  assistance,  and  now  the 
scene  was  changed.  I  was  compelled  to  give  blows,  as 
well  as  to  parry  them,  and  since  I  was  in  any  case  to 
suffer  for  resistance,  I  felt  (as  the  musty  proverb  goes) 
that  I  "  might  as  well  be  hanged  for  an  old  sheep  as  a 
lamb."  I  was  still  defensive  toward  Covey,  but  aggressive 
toward  Hughes,  on  whom,  at  his  first  approach,  I  dealt  a 
blow  which  fairly  sickened  him.  He  went  off,  bending 
over  with  pain,  and  manifesting  no  disposition  to  come 
again  within  my  reach.  The  poor  fellow  was  in  the  act 
of  trying  to  catch  and  tie  my  right  hand,  and  while  flat- 
tering himself  with  success,  I  gave  him  the  kick  which 
sent  him  staggering  away  in  pain,  at  the  same  time  that  I 
held  Covey  with  a  firm  hand. 

Taken  completely  by  surprise,  Covey  seemed  to  have 
lost  his  usual  strength  and  coolness.  He  was  frightened, 
and  stood  puffing  and  blowing,  seemingly  unable  to  com- 

BILL,   THE   HIRED   MAN.  175 

maiid  words  or  blows.  When  he  saw  that  Hughes  was 
standing  half  bent  with  pain,  his  courage  quite  gone,  the 
cowardly  tyrant  asked  if  I  "  meant  to  persist  in  my  resist- 
ance." I  told  him  I  "did  mean  to  resist,  come  what 
might;  that  I  had  been  treated  like  a  brute  during  the 
last  six  months,  and  that  I  should  stand  it  no  longer." 
With  that  he  gave  me  a  shake,  and  attempted  to  drag  me 
toward  a  stick  of  wood  that  was  lying  just  outside  the 
stable-door.  He  meant  to  knock  me  down  with  it ;  but, 
just  as  he  leaned  over  to  get  the  stick,  I  seized  him  with 
both  hands,  by  the  collar,  and  with  a  vigorous  and  sudden 
snatch,  I  brought  my  assailant  harmlessly,  his  full  length, 
on  the  not  over-clean  ground,  for  we  were  now  in  the  cow- 
yard.  He  had  selected  the  place  for  the  fight,  and  it  was 
but  right  that  he  should  have  all  the  advantages  of  his 
own  selection. 

By  this  time  Bill,  the  hired  man,  came  home.  He  had 
been  to  Mr.  Helmsley's  to  spend  Sunday  with  his  nominal 
wife.  Covey  and  I  had  been  at  skirmishing  from  before 
daybreak  till  now,  and  the  sun  was  now  shooting  his 
beams  almost  over  the  eastern  woods,  and  we  were  still 
at  it.  I  could  not  see  where  the  matter  was  to  terminate. 
He  evidently  was  afraid  to  let  me  go,  lest  I  should  again 
make  off  to  the  woods,  otherwise  he  would  probably  have 
obtained  arms  from  the  house  to  frighten  me.  Holding 
me,  he  called  upon  Bill  to  assist  him.  The  scene  here 
had  something  comic  about  it.  Bill,  who  knew  precisely 
what  Covey  wished  him  to  do,  affected  ignorance,  and 
pretended  he  did  not  know  what  to  do.  "  What  shall  I 
do.  Master  Covey  ? "  said  Bill.  "  Take  hold  of  him !  — 
take  hold  of  him  !  "  said  Covey.  With  a  toss  of  his  head, 
peculiar  to  Bill,  he  said  :  "'  Indeed,  Master  Covey,  I  want 
to  go  to  work."  "  This  is  your  worh^^  said  Covey  ;  "  take 
hold  of  him."  Bill  replied,  with  spirit :  "  My  master  hired 
me  here  to  work,  and  not  to  help  you  whip  Frederick." 


It  was  my  turn  to  speak.  "  Bill,"  said  I,  "  don't  put  your 
hands  on  me."  To  which  he  replied :  "  My  God,  Freder- 
ick, I  ain't  goin'  to  tech  ye  "  ;  and  Bill  walked  off,  leaving 
Covey  and  myself  to  settle  our  differences  as  best  we 

But  my  present  advantage  was  threatened  when  I  saw 
Caroline  (the  slave  woman  of  Covey)  coming  to  the  cow- 
yard  to  milk,  for  she  was  a  powerful  woman,  and  could 
have  mastered  me  easily,  exhausted  as  I  was. 

As  soon  as  she  came  near,  Covey  attempted  to  rally 
her  to  his  aid.  Strangely  and  fortunately,  Caroline  was 
in  no  humor  to  take  a  hand  in  any  such  sport.  We  were 
all  in  open  rebellion  that  morning.  Caroline  answered 
the  command  of  her  master  to  "  take  hold  of  me,"  pre- 
cisely as  Bill  had  done,  but  in  her  'it  was  at  far  greater 
peril,  for  she  was  tlie  slave  of  Covey,  and  he  could  do 
what  he  pleased  with  her.  It  was  not  so  with  Bill,  and 
Bill  knew  it.  Samuel  Harris,  to  whom  Bill  belonged, 
did  not  allow  his  slaves  to  be  beaten  unless  they  were 
guilty  of  some  crime  which  the  law  would  punish.  But 
poor  Caroline,  like  myself,  was  at  the  mercy  of  the  merci- 
less Covey,  nor  did  she  escape  the  dire  effects  of  her 
refusal :  he  gave  her  several  sharp  blows. 

At  length  (two  hours  had  elapsed)  the  contest  was 
given  over.  Letting  go  of  me,  puffing  and  blowing  at  a 
great  rate,  Covey  said  :  "Now,  you  scoundrel,  go  to  your 
work  ;  I  would  not  have  whipped  you  half  so  hard  if  you 
liad  not  resisted."  The  fact  was,  he  had  not  whipped 
me  at  all.  He  had  not,  in  all  the  scuffle,  drawn  a  single 
drop  of  blood  from  me.  I  had  drawn  blood  from  him,  and 
should  even  without  this  satisfaction  have  been  victo- 
rious, because  my  aim  had  not  been  to  injure  him,  but  to 
prevent  his  injuring  me. 

During  the  whole  six  months  I  lived  with  Covey  after 
this  transaction,  he  never  again  laid  the  weight  of .  his 


finger  on  me  in  anger.  He  would  occasionally  say  he  did 
not  want  to  hav^e  to  get  hold  of  me  again — a  declaration 
which  I  had  no  difficulty  in  believing  ;  and  I  had  a  secret 
feeling  which  answered,  "  You  had  better  not  wish  to 
get  hold  of  me  again,  for  you  will  be  likely  to  come  off 
worse  in  a  second  fight  than  you  did  in  the  first." 

Well,  my  dear  reader,  this  battle  with  Mr.  Covey, 
undignified  as  it  was,  and  as  I  fear  my  narration  of  it  is, 
was  tlie  turning-point  in  my  "  life  as  a  slave."  It  rekin- 
dled in  my  breast  the  smouldering  embers  of  liberty ;  it 
brought  up  my  Baltimore  dreams,  and  revived  a  sense  of 
my  own  manhood.  I  was  a  changed  being  after  that 
fight.  I  was  nothing  before  ;  I  was  a  man  now.  It 
recalled  to  life  my  crashed  self-respect,  and  my  self-con- 
fidence, and  inspired  me  with  a  renewed  determination  to 
be  a  free  man.  A  man  without  force  is  without  the 
essential  dignity  of  humanity.  Human  nature  is  so  con- 
stituted, that  it  cannot  honor  a  helpless  man,  though  it 
c^npity  him,  and  even  this  it  cannot  do  long  if  signs  of 
power  do  not  arise. 

He  only  can  understand  the  effect  of  this  combat  on 
my  spirit,  who  has  himself  incurred  something,  hazarded 
something,  in  repelling  the  unjust  and  cruel  aggressions 
of  a  tyrant.  Covey  was  a  tyrant  and  a  cowardly  one 
withal.  After  resisting  him,  I  felt  as  I  never  felt  before. 
It  was  a  resurrection  from  the  dark  and  pestiferous  tomb 
of  slavery,  to  the  heaven  of  comparative  freedom.  I 
was  no  longer  a  servile  coward,  trembling  under  the 
frown  of  a  brother  worm  of  the  dust,  but  my  long-cowed 
spirit  was  roused  to  an  attitude  of  independence.  I  had 
reached  the  point  at  which  I  was  not  afraid  to  die.  This 
spirit  made  me  a  freeman  in  fact,  though  I  still  remained 
a  slave  in  form.  When  a  slave  cannot  be  flogged,  he  is 
more  than  half  free.  He  has  a  domain  as  broad  as  his 
own  manly  heart  to  defend,  and  he  is  really  "a  power  on 

178  A   BOY   OP   SIXTEEN. 

earth.'*  From  this  time  until  my  escape  from  slavery,  I 
was  never  fairly  whipped.  Several  attempts  were  made, 
but  they  were  always  unsuccessful.  Bruised  I  did  get, 
but  the  instance  I  have  described  was  the  end  of  the  bru- 
tification  to  which  slavery  had  subjected  me. 

The  reader  may  like  to  know  why,  after  1  had  so  griev- 
ously offended  Mr.  Covey,  he  did  not  have  me  taken  in 
hand  by  the  authorities  ;  indeed,  why  the  law  of  Mary- 
land, which  assigned  hanging  to  the  slave  who  resisted 
his  master,  was  not  put  in  force  against  me,  at  any  rate 
why  I  was  not  taken  up,  as  was  usual  in  such  cases,  and 
publicly  whipped  as  an  example  to  other  slaves,  and  as  a 
means  of  deterring  me  from  committing  the  same  offence 
again.  I  confess  that  the  easy  manner  in  which  I  got 
off  was  always  a  surprise  to  me,  and  even  now  I  cannot 
fully  explain  the  cause,  though  the  probability  is  that 
Covey  was  ashamed  to  have  it  known  that  he  had  been 
mastered  by  a  boy  of  sixteen.  He  enjoyed  the  unbounded 
and  very  valuable  reputation  of  being  a  first-rate  overseer 
and  negro-breaker,  and  by  means  of  this  reputation  he 
was  able  to  procure  his  hands  at  very  trifling  compensa- 
tion and  with  very  great  ease.  His  interest  and  his 
pride  would  mutually  suggest  the  wisdom  of  passing  the 
matter  by  in  silence.  The  story  that  he  had  undertaken 
to  whip  a  lad  and  had  been  resisted,  would  of  itself  be 
damaging  to  him  in  the  estimation  of  slaveholders. 

It  is  perhaps  not  altogether  creditable  to  my  natural 
temper  that  after  this  conflict  with  Mr.  Covey  I  did,  at 
times,  purposely  aim  to  provoke  him  to  an  attack,  by 
refusing  to  keep  with  the  other  hands  in  the  field  ;  but  I 
could  never  bully  him  to  another  battle.  I  was  deter- 
mined on  doing  him  serious  damage  if  he  ever  again 
attempted  to  lay  violent  hands  on  me. 

''Hereditary  bondmen,  know  ye  not 

Wlio  would  be  free,  themselves  must  strike  the  blow  ?  " 



Change  of  masters — Benefits  derived  by  change — Fame  of  the  fight 
with  Covey — Reckless  unconcern — Author's  abhorrence  of  slavery 
— Ability  to  read  a  cause  of  prejudice — The  holidays — How  spent — 
Sharp  hit  at  slavery — Effects  of  holidays — Difference  between  Co- 
vey and  Freeland — An  irreligious  master  preferred  to  a  religious 
one — Hard  life  at  Covey's  useful  to  the  author — Improved  condition 
does  not  bring  contentment — Congenial  society  at  Freeland's — Au- 
thor's Sabbath-school — Secrecy  necessary — Affectionate  relations  of 
tutor  and  pupils — Confidence  and  friendship  among  slaves — Slavery 
the  inviter  of  vengeance. 

MY  term  of  service  with  Edward  Covey  expired  on 
Christmas  day,  1834.  I  gladly-enough  left  him, 
although  he  was  by  this  time  as  gentle  as  a  lamb.  My 
home  for  the  year  1835  was  already  secured,  my  next 
master  selected.  There  was  always  more  or  less  excite- 
ment about  the  changing  of  hands,  but  I  had  become 
somewhat  reckless  and  cared  little  into  whose  hands  I 
fell,  determined  to  fight  my  way.  The  report  got  abroad 
that  I  was  hard  to  whip,  that  I  was  guilty  of  kicking 
back,  and  though  generally  a  good-natured  negro,  I  some- 
times "got  the  devil  in  me."  These  sayings  were  rife  in 
Talbot  County,  and  they  distinguished  me  among  my  ser- 
vile brethren.  Slaves  would  sometimes  fight  with  each 
other,  and  even  die  at  each  other's  hands,  but  there  were 
very  few  who  were  not  held  in  awe  by  a  white  man. 
Trained  from  the  cradle  up  to  think  and  feel  that  their 
masters  were  superiors,  and  invested  with  a  sort  of 
sacredness,  there  were  few  who  could  rise  above  the  con- 
trol which  that  sentiment  exercised.  I  had  freed  myself 
8  (179) 


from  it,  and  the  thing  was  known.  One  bad  sheep  will 
spoil  a  whole  flock.  I  was  a  bad  sheep.  I  hated  slavery, 
slaveholders,  and  all  pertaining  to  them ;  and  I  did  not 
fail  to  inspire  others  with  the  same  feeling  wherever  and 
whenever  opportunity  was  presented.  This  made  me  a 
marked  lad  among  the  slaves,  and  a  suspected  one  among 
slaveholders.  A  knowledge  of  my  ability  to  read  and 
write  got  pretty  widely  spread,  which  was  very  much 
against  me. 

The  days  between  Christmas  day  and  New  Year's  w^ere 
allowed  the  slaves  as  holidays.  During  these  days  all 
regular  work  was  suspended,  and  there  was  nothing  to  do 
but  to  keep  fires  and  look  after  the  stock.  We  regarded 
this  time  as  our  own  by  the  grace  of  our  masters,  and  we 
therefore  used  it  or  abused  it  as  we  pleased.  Those  who 
had  families  at  a  distance  were  expected  to  visit  them 
and  spend  with  them  the  entire  week.  The  younger 
slaves  or  the  unmarried  ones  were  expected  to  see  to 
the  cattle,  and  attend  to  incidental  duties  at  home.  The 
holidays  were  variously  spent.  The  sober,  thinking, 
industrious  ones  would  employ  themselves  in  manufac- 
turing corn-brooms,  mats,  horse-collars,  and  baskets,  and 
some  of  these  were  very  well  made.  Another  class  spent 
their  time  in  hunting  opossums,  coons,  rabbits,  and  other 
game.  But  the  majority  spent  the  holidays  in  sports, 
ball-playing,  wrestling,  boxing,  running,  foot-races,  danc- 
ing, and  drinking  whisky;  and  this  latter  mode  was 
generally  most  agreeable  to  their  masters.  A  slave  who 
would  work  during  the  holidays  was  thought  by  his  mas- 
ter undeserving  of  holidays.  There  was  in  this  simple 
act  of  continued  work  an  accusation  against  slaves,  and 
a  slave  could  not  help  thinking  that  if  he  made  three 
dollars  during  the  holidays  he  might  make  three  hundred 
during  the  year.  Not  to  be  drunk  during  the  holidays 
was  disgraceful. 

THE   slave's    fare.  181 

The  fiddling,  dancing,  and  "jubilee  beating"  was  car- 
ried on  in  all  directions.  This  latter  performance  was 
strictly  southern.  It  supplied  the  place  of  violin,  or  of 
other  musical  instruments,  and  was  played  so  easily  that 
almost  every  farm  had  its  "  Juba  "  beater.  The  performer 
improvised  as  he  beat  the  instrument,  marking  the  words 
as  he  sang  so  as  to  have  them  fall  pat  with  the  movement 
of  his  hands.  Among  a  mass  of  nonsense  and  wild 
frolic,  once  in  a  while  a  sharp  hit  was  given  to  the  mean- 
ness of  slaveholders.     Take  the  following  for  example : 

We  raise  de  wheat.  We  peel  de  meat, 

Dey  gib  us  de  corn :  Dey  gib  us  de  skin ; 

We  bake  de  bread.  And  dat's  de  way 

Dey  gib  us  de  crust ;  Dey  take  us  in ; 

We  sif  de  meal,  We  skim  de  pot, 

Dey  gib  us  de  huss;  Dey  gib  us  de  liquor. 

And  say  dat's  good  enough  for  nigger. 

Walk  over!  walk  over! 

Your  butter  and  de  fat ; 

Poor  nigger,  you  can't  get  over  dat  I 
Walk  over — 

This  is  not  a  bad  summary  of  the  palpable  injustice 
and  fraud  of  slavery,  giving,  as  it  does,  to  the  lazy  and 
idle  the  comforts  which  God  designed  should  be  given 
solely  to  the  honest  laborer.  But  to  the  holidays.  Judg- 
ing from  my  own  observation  and  experience,  I  believe 
those  holidays  were  among  the  most  effective  means  in 
the  hands  of  slaveholders  of  keeping  down  the  spirit  of 
insurrection  among  the  slaves. 

"^  To  enslave  men  successfully  and  safely  it  is  necessary 
to  keep  their  minds  occupied  with  thoughts  and  aspira- 
tions short  of  the  liberty  of  which  they  are  deprived.  A 
certain  degree  of  attainable  good  must  be  kept  before 
them.  These  holidays  served  the  purpose  of  keeping  the 
minds  of  the  slaves  occupied  with  prospective  pleasure 
within  the  limits  of  slavery.     The  young  man  could  go 


wooing,  the  married  man  to  see  his  wife,  the  father  and 
mother  to  see  their  children,  the  industrious  and  money- 
loving  could  make  a  few  dollars,  the  great  wrestler  could 
r  win  laurels,  the  young  people  meet  and  enjoy  each  other's 
society,  the  drinking  man  could  get  plenty  of  whisky, 
and  the  religious  man  could  hold  prayer-meetings,  preach, 
pray,  and  exhort.  Before  the  holidays  there  were  pleas- 
ures in  prospect;  after  the  holidays  they  were  pleas- 
ures of  memory,  and  they  served  to  keep  out  thoughts 
and  wishes  of  a  more  dangerous  character.  These  holi- 
days were  also  sort  of  conductors  or  safety-valves,  to 
carry  off  the  explosive  elements  inseparal)le  from  the 
human  mind  when  reduced  to  the  condition  of  slavery. 
But  for  these  the  rigors  of  bondage  would  have  become 
too  severe  for  endurance,  and  the  slave  would  have  been 
forced  up  to  dangerous  desperation. 

Thus  they  became  a  part  and  parcel  of  the  gross 
wrongs  and  inhumanity  of  slavery.  Ostensibly  they  were 
institutions  of  benevolence  designed  to  mitigate  the  rigors 
of  slave-life,  but  practically  they  were  a  fraud  instituted 
by  human  selfishness,  the  better  to  secure  the  ends  of 
injustice  and  oppression.  The  slave's  happiness  was  not 
the  end  sought,  but  the  master's  safety.  It  was  not  from 
a  generous  unconcern  for  the  slave's  labor,  but  from  a 
prudent  regard  for  the  slave  system.  I  am  strengthened 
in  this  opinion  from  the  fact  that  most  slaveholders  liked 
to  have  their  slaves  spend  the  holidays  in  such  manner 
as  to  be  of  no  real  benefit  to  them.  Everything  like 
rational  enjoyment  was  frowned  upon,  and  only  those 
wild  and  low  sports  peculiar  to  semi-civilized  people  were 
encouraged.  The  license  allowed  appeared  to  have  no 
other  object  than  to  disgust  the  slaves  with  their  tempo- 
rary freedom,  and  to  make  them  as  glad  to  return  to  their 
work  as  they  were  to  leave  it.  I  have  known  slaveholders 
resort  to  cunning  tricks,  with  a  view   of  getting  their 


slaves  deplorably  drunk.  The  usual  plan  was  to  make 
bets  on  a  slave  that  he  could  drink  more  whisky  than 
any  other,  and  so  induce  a  rivalry  among  them  for  the 
mastery  in  this  degradation.  The  scenes  brought  about 
in  this  way  were  often  scandalous  and  loathsome  in  the 
extreme.  Whole  multitudes  might  be  found  stretched 
out  in  brutal  drunkenness,  at  once  helpless  and  disgust- 
ing. Thus,  when  the  slave  asked  for  hours  of  "  virtuous 
liberty,"  his  cunning  master  took  advantage  of  his  igno- 
rance and  cheered  him  with  a  dose  of  vicious  and  revolt- 
ing dissipation  artfully  labeled  with  the  name  of  "  liberty.''^ 

We  were  induced  to  drink,  I  among  the  rest,  and  when 
the  holidays  were  over  we  all  staggered  up  from  our  filth 
and  wallowing,  took  a  long  breath,  and  went  away  to  our 
^various  fields  of  work,  feeling,  upon  the  whole,  rather 
glad  to  go  from  that  which  our  masters  had  artfully  de- 
ceived us  into  the  belief  was  freedom,  back  again  to  the 
arms  of  slavery.  It  was  not  what  we  had  taken  it  to  be, 
nor  what  it  would  have  been,  had  it  not  been  abused  by 
us.  It  was  about  as  well  to  be  a  slave  to  master,  as  to  be 
a  slave  to  whisky  and  rum.  When  the  slave  was  drunk 
the  slaveholder  had  no  fear  that  he  would  plan  an  insur- 
rection, no  fear  that  he  would  escape  to  the  North.  It 
was  the  sober,  thoughtful  slave  who  was  dangerous,  and 
needed  the  vigilance  of  his  master  to  keep  him  a  slave. 
But  to  proceed  with  my  narrative. 

On  the  first  of  January,  1835,  I  proceeded  from  St. 
Michaels  to  Mr.  William  Freeland's — my  new  home.  Mr. 
Freeland  lived  only  three  miles  from  St.  Michaels,  on  an 
old,  worn-out  farm,  which  required  much  labor  to  render 
it  anything  like  a  self-supporting  establishment. 

I  found  Mr.  Freeland  a  different  man  from  Covey. 
Though  not  rich,  he  was  what  might  have  been  called  a 
well-bred  Southern  gentleman.  Though  a  slaveholder 
and  sharing  in  common  with  them  many  of  the  vices  of 


his  class,  he  seemed  alive  to  the  sentiment  of  honor,  and 
had  also  some  sense  of  justice,  and  some  feelings  of  hu- 
manity. He  was  fretful,  impulsive,  and  passionate,  but 
free  from  the  mean  and  selfish  characteristics  which  dis- 
tinguished the  creature  from  which  I  had  happily  escaped. 
Mr.  Frceland  was  open,  frank,  imperative,  and  practiced 
no  concealments,  and  disdained  to  play  the  spy ;  in  all 
these  qualities  the  opposite  of  Covey. 

My  poor  weather-beaten  bark  now  reached  smoother 
water  and  gentler  breezes.  My  stormy  life  at  Covey's 
had  been  of  service  to  me.  The  things  that  would  have 
seemed  very  hard  had  I  gone  direct  to  Mr.  Freeland's 
from  the  home  of  Master  Thomas  were  now  "  trifles  light 
as  air."  I  was  still  a  field-hand,  and  had  come  to  prefer 
the  severe  labor  of  the  field  to  the  enervating  duties  of  a*, 
house-servant.  I  had  become  large  and  strong,  and  had 
begun  to  take  pride  in  the  fact  that  I  could  do  as  much 
hard  work  as  some  of  the  older  men.  There  was  much 
rivalry  among  slaves  at  times  as  to  which  could  do  the 
most  work,  and  masters  generally  sought  to  promote  such 
rivalry.  But  some  of  us  were  too  wise  to  race  with  each 
other  very  long.  Such  racing,  we  had  the  sagacity  to 
see,  was  not  likely  to  pay.  We  had  our  times  for  measur- 
ing each  other's  strength,  but  we  knew  too  much  to  keep 
up  the  competition  so  long  as  to  produce  an  extraordinary 
day's  work.  We  knew  that  if  by  extraordinary  exer- 
tion a  large  quantity  of  work  was  done  in  one  day,  and  it 
became  known  to  the  master,  it  might  lead  him  to 
require  the  same  amount  every  day.  This  thought  was 
enough  to  bring  us  to  a  dead  halt  when  ever  so  much 
excited  for  the  race. 

At  Mr.  Freeland's  my  condition  was  every  way  im- 
proved. I  was  no  longer  the  scapegoat  that  I  was  when 
at  Covey's,  where  every  wrong  thing  done  was  saddled 
upon  me,  and  where  other  slaves  were  whipped  over  my 



shoulders.  Bill  Smith  was  protected  by  a  positive  pro- 
hibition, liiade  by  his  rich  master  (and  the  command  of 
the  rich  slaveholder  v^as  law  to  the  poor  one).  Hughes 
was  favored  by  his  relationship  to  Covey,  and  the  hands 
hired  temporarily  escaped  flogging.  I  was  the  general 
pack-horse ;  but  Mr.  Freeland  held  every  man  individ- 
ually responsible  for  his  own  conduct.  Mr.  Freeland, 
like  Mr.  Covey,  gave  his  hands  enough  to  eat,  but,  unlike 
Mr.  Covey,  he  gave  them  time  to  take  their  meals.  He 
worked  us  hard  during  the  day,  but  gave  us  the  night  for 
rest.  We  were  seldom  in  the  field  after  dark  in  the  even- 
ing, or  before  sunrise  in  the  morning.  Our  implements 
of  husbandry  were  of  the  most  improved  pattern,  and 
much  superior  to  those  used  at  Covey's. 

Notwithstanding  all  the  improvement  in  my  relations, 
notwithstanding  the  many  advantages  I  had  gained  by 
my  new  home  and  my  new  master,  I  was  still  restless  and 
discontented.  I  was  about  as  hard  to  please  by  a  master 
as  a  master  is  by  a  slave.  The  freedom  from  bodily  tor- 
ture and  unceasing  labor  had  given  my  mind  an  increased 
sensibility,  and  imparted  to  it  greater  activity.  I  was 
not  yet  exactly  in  right  relations.  "Howbeit,  that  was 
not  first  which  is  spiritual,  but  that  which  is  natural,  and 
afterward  that  which  is  spiritual."  When  entombed  at 
Covey's,  shrouded  in  darkness  and  physical  wretchedness, 
temporal  well-being  was  the  grand  desideratum  ;  but,  tem- 
poral wants  supplied,  the  spirit  puts  in  its  claims.  Beat 
and  cuff  your  slave,  keep  him  hungry  and  spiritless,  and 
he  will  follow  the  chain  of  his  master  like  a  dog ;  but 
feed  and  clothe  him  well,  work  him  moderately,  surround 
him  with  physical  comfort,  and  dreams  of  freedom 
intrude.  Give  him  a  had  master,  and  he  aspires  to  a 
good  master  ;  give  him  a  good  master,  and  he  wishes  to 
become  his  own  master.  Such  is  human  nature.  You 
may  hurl  a  man  so  low  beneath  the  level  of  his  kind, 

186  AT   HIS   OLD   TRICKS. 

that  he  loses  all  just  ideas  of  his  natural  position,  but 
elevate  him  a  little,  and  the  clear  conception  of  rights 
rises  to  life  and  power,  and  leads  him  onward.  Thus 
elevated  a  little  at  Freeland's,  the  dreams  called  into 
being  by  that  good  man.  Father  Lawson,  when  in  Balti- 
more, began  to  visit  me  again ;  shoots  from  the  tree  of 
liberty  began  to  put  forth  buds,  and  dim  hopes  of  the 
future  began  to  dawn. 

I  found  myself  in  congenial  society.  There  were  Henry 
Harris,  John  Harris,  Handy  Caldwell,  and  Sandy  Jen- 
kins (this  last,  of  the  root-preventive  memory). 

Henry  and  John  Harris  were  brothers,  and  belonged  to 
Mr.  Freeland.  They  were  both  remarkably  bright  and 
intelligent,  though  neither  of  them  could  read.  Now  for 
mischief  !  I  had  not  been  long  here  before  I  was  up  to 
my  old  tricks.  I  began  to  address  my  companions  on  the 
subject  of  education,  and  the  advantages  of  intelligence 
over  ignorance,  and,  as  far  as  I  dared,  I  tried  to  show  the 
agency  of  ignorance  in  keeping  men  in  slavery.  Web- 
ster's spelling-book  and  the  Columbian  Orator  were  looked 
into  again.  As  summer  came  on,  and  the  long  Sabbath 
days  stretched  themselves  over  our  idleness,  I  became 
uneasy,  and  wanted  a  Sabbath-school,  where  to  exercise 
my  gifts,  and  to  impart  the  little  knowledge  I  possessed 
to  my  brother-slaves.  A  house  was  hardly  necessary  in 
the  summer  time  ;  I  could  hold  my  school  under  the  shade 
of  an  old  oak  tree  as  well  as  any  where  else.  The  thing 
was  to  get  the  scholars,  and  to  have  them  thoroughly 
imbued  with  the  idea  to  learn.  Two  such  boys  were 
quickly  found  in  Henry  and  John,  and  from  them  the 
contagion  spread.  I  was  not  long  in  bringing  around  me 
twenty  or  thirty  young  men,  who  enrolled  themselves 
gladly  in  my  Sabbath-school,  and  were  willing  to  meet 
me  regularly  under  the  trees  or  elsewhere,  for  the  purpose 
of  learning  to  read.     It  was  surprising  with  what  ease 


tliey  provided  themselves  witli  spelling-books.  Tliese 
were  mostly  the  cast-off  books  of  their  young  masters  or 
mistresses.  I  taught  at  first  on  our  own  farm.  All 
were  impressed  with  the  necessity  of  keeping  the  matter 
as  private  as  possible,  for  the  fate  of  the  St.  Michaels 
attempt  was  still  fresh  in  the  minds  of  all.  Our  pious 
masters  at  St.  Michaels  must  not  know  that  a  few  of 
their  dusky  brothers  were  learning  to  read  the  Word  of 
God,  lest  they  should  come  down  upon  us  with  the  lash 
and  chain.  We  might  have  met  to  drink  whisky,  to 
wrestle,  fight,  and  to  do  other  unseemly  things,  with  no 
fear  of  interruption  from  the  saints  or  the  sinners  of  St. 
Michaels.  But  to  meet  for  the  purpose  of  improving  the 
mind  and  heart,  by  learning  to  read  the  sacred  scriptures, 
was  a  nuisance  to  be  instantly  stopped.  The  slave- 
holders there,  like  slaveholders  elsewhere,  preferred  to 
see  the  slaves  engaged  in  degrading  sports,  rather  than 
acting  like  moral  and  accountable  beings.  Had  any  one 
asked  a  religious  white  man  in  St.  Michaels,  at  that  time, 
the  names  of  three  men  in  that  town  whose  lives  were 
most  after  the  pattern  of  our  Lord  and  Master  Jesus 
Christ,  the  reply  would  have  been :  Garrison  West,  class- 
leader,  Wright  Fairbanks  and  Thomas  Auld,  both  also 
class-leaders ;  and  yet  these  men  ferociously  rushed  in 
upon  my  Sabbath-school,  armed  with  mob-like  missiles, 
and  forbade  our  meeting  again  on  pain  of  having  our 
backs  subjected  to  the  bloody  lash.  This  same  Garrison 
West  was  my  class-leader,  and  I  had  thought  him  a  Chris- 
tian until  he  took  part  in  breaking  up  my  school.  He 
led  me  no  more  after  that. 

The  plea  for  this  outrage  was  then,  as  it  is  always,  the 
tyrant's  plea  of  necessity.  If  the  slaves  learned  to  read 
they  would  learn  something  more  and  something  worse. 
The  peace  of  slavery  would  be  disturbed;  slave  rule 
would  be  endangered.     I  do  not  dispute  the  soundness 


of  the  reasoning.  If  slavery  were  right,  Sabbath-schools 
for  teaching  slaves  to  read  were  wrong,  and  ought  to 
liave  been  put  down.  These  Christian  class-leaders 
were,  to  this  extent,  consistent.  They  had  settled  the 
question  that  slavery  was  right,  and  by  that  standard 
they  determined  that  Sabbath-schools  were  wrong.  To 
be  sure  they  were  Protestant,  and  held  to  the  great 
Protestant  right  of  every  man  to  "search  the  Scriptures" 
for  himself ;  but  then,  to  all  general  rules  there  are 
exceptions.  How  convenient !  What  crimes  may  not  be 
committed  under  such  ruling  !  But  my  dear  class-lead- 
ing Methodist  brethren  did  not  condescend  to  give  me  a 
reason  for  breaking  up  the  school  at  St.  Michaels ;  they 
had  determined  its  destruction,  and  that  was  enough. 
However,  I  am  digressing. 

After  getting  the  school  nicely  started  a  second  time, 
holding  it  in  the  woods  behind  the  barn,  and  in  the  shade 
of  trees,  I  succeeded  in  inducing  a  free  colored  man  who 
lived  several  miles  from  our  house  to  permit  me  to  hold 
my  school  in  a  room  at  his  house.  He  incurred  much 
peril  in  doing  so,  for  the  assemblage  was  an  unlawful 
one.  I  had  at  one  time  more  than  forty  scholars,  all  of 
the  right  sort,  and  many  of  them  succeeded  in  learning 
to  read.  I  have  had  various  employments  during  my 
life,  but  I  look  back  to  none  with  more  satisfaction.  An 
attachment,  deep  and  permanent,  sprung  up  between  me 
and  my  persecuted  pupils,  which  made  my  parting  from 
them  intensely  painful. 

Besides  my  Sunday-school,  I  devoted  three  evenings  a 
week  to  my  other  fellow  slaves  during  the  winter.  Those 
dear  souls  who  came  to  my  Sabbath-school  came  not 
because  it  was  popular  or  reputable  to  do  so,  for  they 
came  with  a  liability  of  having  forty  stripes  laid  on  their 
naked  backs.  In  this  Christian  country  men  and  women 
were   obliged  to  hide    in  barns   and   woods   and    trees 

A    BAND    OF   BROTHERS.  189 

from  professing  Christians,  in  order  to  learn  to  read  the 
Holy  Bible.  Their  minds  had  been  cramped  and  starved 
by  their  cruel  masters ;  the  light  of  education  had  been 
completely  excluded,  and  their  hard  earnings  had  been 
taken  to  educate  their  master's  children.  I  felt  a  delight 
in  circumventing  the  tyrants,  and  in  blessing  victims  of 
their  curses. 

The  year  at  Mr.  Freeland's  passed  off  very  smoothly, 
to  outward  seeming.  Not  a  blow  was  given  me  during 
the  whole  year.  To  the  credit  of  Mr.  Freeland,  irreligious 
though  he  was,  it  must  be  stated  that  he  was  the  best 
master  I  ever  had  until  I  became  my  own  master  and 
assumed  for  myself,  as  I  had  a  right  to  do,  the  responsi- 
bility of  my  own  existence  and  the  exercise  of  my  own 

For  much  of  the  happiness,  or  absence  of  misery,  with 
which  I  passed  this  year,  I  am  indebted  to  the  genial 
temper  and  ardent  friendship  of  my  brother  slaves. 
They  were  every  one  of  them  manly,  generous,  and  brave ; 
yes,  I  say  they  were  brave,  and  I  will  add,  fine-looking. 
It  is  seldom  the  lot  of  any  to  have  truer  and  better 
friends  than  were  the  slaves  on  this  farm.  It  was  not 
uncommon  to  charge  slaves  with  great  treachery  toward 
each  other,  but  I  must  say  I  never  loved,  esteemed,  or 
confided  in  men  more  than  I  did  in  these.  They  were  as 
true  as  steel,  and  no  band  of  brothers  could  be  more 
loving.  There  were  no  mean  advantages  taken  of  each 
other,  no  tattling,  no  giving  each  other  bad  names  to  Mr. 
Freeland,  and  no  elevating  one  at  the  expense  of  the 
other.  We  never  undertook  anything  of  any  importance 
which  was  likely  to  affect  each  other,  without  mutual  con- 
sultation. We  were  generally  a  unit,  and  moved  together. 
Thoughts  and  sentiments  were  exchanged  between  us 
which  might  well  have  been  considered  incendiary  had 
they  been  known  by  our  masters.     The  slaveholder,  were 

190  slaveholders'  position. 

he  kind  or  cruel,  was  a  slaveholder  still,  tlie  every-hour 
violator  of  the  just  and  inaliena])le  rights  of  man,  and 
he  was  therefore  every  hour  silently  but  surely  whetting 
the  knife  of  vengeance  for  his  own  throat.  He  never 
lisped  a  syllable  in  commendation  of  the  fathers  of  this 
republic  without  inviting  the  sword,  and  asserting  the 
right  of  rebellion  for  his  own  slaves. 



Itew  fear's  thoughts  and  meditations — Again  hired  by  Freeland — 
Kindness  no  compensation  for  slavery — Incipient  steps  toward 
escape — Considerations  leading  thereto — Hostility  to  slavery — 
Solemn  vow  taken — Plan  divulged  to  slaves — Columbian  Orator 
again — Scheme  gains  favor — Danger  of  discovery — Skill  of  slave- 
holders— Suspicion  and  coercion — Hymns  with  double  meaning — 
Consultation — Pass-word — Hope  and  fear — Ignorance  of  geography 
— Imaginary  difficulties — Patrick  Henry — Sandy  a  dreamer — Route 
to  the  north  mapped  out — Objections — Frauds — Passes — Anxieties 
— Fear  of  failure — Strange  presentiment — Coincidence — Betrayal — 
Arrests — Resistance — Mrs.  Freeland — Prison — Brutal  jests — Passes 
eaten — Denial — Sandy — Dragged  behind  horses — Slave-traders — 
Alone  in  prison — Sent  to  Baltimore. 

I  AM  now  at  the  beginning  of  the  year  1836,  when  the 
mind  naturally  occupies  itself  with  the  mysteries  of 
life  in  all  its  phases — the  ideal,  the  real,  and  the  actual. 
Sober  people  look  both  ways  at  the  beginning  of  a  new 
year,  surveying  the  errors  of  the  past,  and  providing 
against  the  possible  errors  of  the  future.  I,  too,  was 
thus  exercised.  I  had  little  pleasure  in  retrospect,  and 
the  future  prospect  was  not  brilliant.  "  Notwithstand- 
ing," thought  I,  "  the  many  resolutions  and  prayers  I  have 
made  in  behalf  of  freedom,  I  am,  this  first  day  of  the 
year  1836,  still  a  slave,  still  wandering  in  the  depths  of  a 
miserable  bondage.  My  faculties  and  powers  of  body  and 
soul  are  not  my  own,  but  are  the  property  of  a  fellow- 
mortal  in  no  sense  superior  to  me,  except  that  he  has  the 
physical  power  to  compel  me  to  be  owned  and  controlled 
by  him.  By  the  combined  physical  force  of  the  com- 
munity I  am  his  slave — a  slave  for  life."     With  thoughts 




like  these  I  was  chafed  and  perplexed,  and  they  rendered 
me  gloomy  and  disconsolate.  The  anguish  of  my  mind 
cannot  be  written. 

At  the  close  of  the  year,  Mr.  Freeland  renewed  the 
purchase  of  my  services  of  Mr.  Auld  for  the  coming  year. 
His  promptness  in  doing  so  would  have  been  flattering  to 
my  vanity  had  I  been  ambitious  to  win  the  reputation  of 
being  a  valuable  slave.  Even  as  it  was,  I  felt  a  slight 
degree  of  complacency  at  the  circumstance.  It  showed 
him  to  be  as  well  pleased  with  me  as  a  slave  as  I  with 
him  as  a  master.  But  the  kindness  of  the  slave-master 
only  gilded  the  chain,  it  detracted  nothing  from  its  weight 
or  strength.  The  thought  that  men  are  made  for  other 
and  better  uses  than  slavery,  throve  best  under  the  gentle 
treatment  of  a  kind  master.  Its  grim  visage  could  assume 
no  smiles  able  to  fascinate  the  partially  enlightened  slave 
into  a  forge tfulness  of  his  bondage,  or  of  the  desirable- 
ness of  liberty. 

I  was  not  through  the  first  month  of  my  second  year 
with  the  kind  and  gentlemanly  Mr.  Freeland  before  I  was 
earnestly  considering  and  devising  plans  for  gaining  that 
freedom  which,  when  I  was  but  a  mere  child,  I  had  ascer- 
tained to  be  the  natural  and  inborn  right  of  every  mem- 
ber of  the  human  family.  The  desire  for  this  freedom 
had  been  benumbed  while  I  was  under  the  brutalizing 
dominion  of  Covey,  and  it  had  been  postponed  and  ren- 
dered inoperative  by  my  truly  pleasant  Sunday-school 
engagements  with  my  friends  during  the  year  at  Mr. 
Freeland's.  It  had,  however,  never  entirely  subsided.  1 
hated  slavery  always^  and  my  desire  for  freedom  needed 
only  a  favorable  breeze  to  fan  it  to  a  blaze  at  any  moment. 
The  thought  of  being  only  a  creature  of  the  present  and 
the  past  troubled  me,  and  I  longed  to  have  future — a 
future  with  hope  in  it.  To  be  shut  up  entirely  to  the  past 
and  present  is  to  the  soul  whose  life  and  happiness  is 


unceasing  progress — what  the  prison  is  to  the  body — a 
blight  and  a  mildew,  a  hell  of  horrors.  The  dawning  of 
this,  another  year,  awakened  me  from  my  temporary 
slumber,  and  roused  into  life  my  latent  but  long-cherished 
aspirations  for  freedom.  I  became  not  only  ashamed  to 
be  contented  in  slavery,  but  ashamed  to  seem  to  be  con- 
tented, and  in  my  present  favorable  condition  under  the 
.mild  rule  of  Mr.  Freeland,  I  am  not  sure  that  some  kind 
reader  will  not  condemn  me  for  being  over-ambitious,  and 
greatly  wanting  in  humility,  when  I  say  the  truth,  that  I 
now  drove  from  me  all  thoughts  of  making  the  best  of 
my  lot,  and  welcomed  only  such  thoughts  as  led  me 
away  from  the  house  of  bondage.  The  intensity  of  my 
desire  to  be  free,  quickened  by  my  present  favorable  cir- 
cumstances, brought  me  to  the  determination  tp  act  as 
well  as  to  think  and  speak. 

Accordingly,  at  the  beginning  of  this  year  1836,  I  took 
upon  me  a  solemn  vow,  that  the  year  which  had  just  now 
dawned  upon  me  should  not  close  without  witnessing  an 
earnest  attempt,  on  my  part,  to  gain  my  liberty.  This 
vow  only  bound  me  to  make  good  my  own  individual 
escape,  but  my  friendship  for  my  brother-slaves  was  so 
affectionate  and  confiding  that  I  felt  it  my  duty,  as  well 
as  my  pleasure,  to  give  them  an  opportunity  to  share  in 
my  determination.  Toward  Henry  and  John  Harris  I 
felt  a  friendship  as  strong  as  one  man  can  feel  for  another, 
for  I  could  have  died  with  and  for  them.  To  them,  there- 
fore, with  suitable  caution,  I  began  to  disclose  my  senti- 
ments and  plans,  sounding  them  the  while  on  the  subject 
of  running  away,  provided  a  good  chance  should  offer. 
I  need  not  say  that  I  did  my  very  best  to  imbue  the  minds 
of  my  dear  friends  with  my  own  views  and  feelings. 
Thoroughly  awakened  now,  and  with  a  definite  vow  upon 
me,  all  my  little  reading  which  had  any  bearing  on  the 
subject  of  human  rights  was  rendered  available  in  my 

194  TOO   BIG   FOR   HIS   CHAINS. 

coinmimications  with  my  friends.  That  gem  of  a  book, 
the  Columbian  Orator,  with  its  eloquent  orations  and 
spicy  dialogues  denouncing  oppression  and  slavery — ^tell- 
ing what  had  been  dared,  done,  and  suffered  by  men,  to 
obtain  the  inestimable  boon  of  liberty, — was  still  fresh  in 
my  memory,  and  whirled  into  the  ranks  of  my  speech 
with  the  aptitude  of  well-trained  soldiers  going  through 
the  drill.  I  here  began  my  public  speaking.  I  canvassed 
with  Henry  and  John  the  subject  of  slavery,  and  dashed 
against  it  the  condemning  brand  of  God's  eternal  justice. 
My  fellow-servants  were  neither  indifferent,  dull,  nor 
inapt.  Our  feelings  were  more  alike  than  our  opinions. 
All,  however,  were  ready  to  act  when  a  feasible  plan 
should  be  proposed.  "  Show  us  how  the  thing  is  to  be 
done,"  said  they,  "  and  all  else  is  clear." 

We  were  all,  except  Sandy,  quite  clear  from  slave- 
holding  priestcraft.  It  was  in  vain  that  we  had  been 
taught  from  the  pulpit  at  St.  Michaels  the  duty  of  obe- 
dience to  our  masters  ;  to  recognize  God  as  the  author 
of  our  enslavement ;  to  regard  running  away  as  an  offense, 
alike  against  God  and  man  ;  to  deem  our  enslavement  a 
merciful  and  beneficial  arrangement ;  to  esteem  our  con- 
dition in  this  country  a  paradise  to  that  from  which  we 
had  been  snatched  in  Africa  ;  to  consider  our  hard  hands 
and  dark  color  as  God's  displeasure,  and  as  pointing  us 
out  as  the  proper  subjects  of  slavery  ;  that  the  relation  of 
master  and  slave  was  one  of  reciprocal  benefits ;  that  our 
work  was  not  more  serviceable  to  our  masters  than  our 
master's  thinking  was  to  us.  I  say  it  was  in  vain  that 
the  pulpit  of  St.  Michaels  had  constantly  inculcated  these 
plausible  doctrines.  Nature  laughed  them  to  scorn. 
For  my  part,  I  had  become  altogether  too  big  for  my 
chains.  Father  Lawson's  solemn  words  of  what  I  ought 
to  be,  and  what  I  might  be  in  the  providence  of  God,  had 
not  fallen  dead  on  my  soul.     I  was  fast  verging  toward 


manhood,  and  the  prophesies  of  my  childhood  were  still 
unfulfilled.  The  thought  that  year  after  year  had  passed 
away,  and  my  best  resolutions  to  run  away  had  failed 
and  faded,  that  I  was  still  a  slave,  with  chances  for  gain- 
ing my  freedom  diminished  and  still  diminishing — ^was  not 
a  matter  to  be  slept  over  easily.  But  here  came  a  trouble. 
Such  thoughts  and  purposes  as  I  now  cherished  could  not 
agitate  the  mind  long  without  making  themselves  mani- 
fest to  scrutinizing  and  unfriendly  observers.  1  had  rea- 
son to  fear  that  my  sable  face  might  prove  altogether  too 
transparent  for  the  safe  concealment  of  my  hazardous 
enterprise.  Plans  of  great  moment  have  leaked  through 
stone  walls,  and  revealed  their  projectors.  But  here  was 
no  stone  wall  to  hide  my  purpose.  I  would  have  given 
my  poor  tell-tale  face  for  the  immovable  countenance  of 
an  Indian,  for  it  .was  far  from  proof  against  the  daily 
searching  glances  of  those  whom  I  met. 

It  was  the  interest  and  business  of  slaveholders  to  study 
human  nature,  and  the  slave  nature  in  particular,  with  a 
view  to  practical  results  ;  and  many  of  them  attained 
astonishing  proficiency  in  this  direction.  They  had  to 
deal  not  with  earth,  wood,  and  stone,  but  with  men  ;  and 
by  every  regard  they  had  for  their  safety  and  prosperity 
they  had  need  to  know  the  material  on  which  they  were 
to  work.  So  much  intellect  as  the  slaveholder  had  round 
him  required  watching.  Their  safety  depended  on  their 
vigilance.  Conscious  of  the  injustice  and  wrong  they 
were  every  hour  perpetrating,  and  knowing  what  they 
themselves  would  do  if  they  were  victims  of  such  wrongs, 
they  were  constantly  looking  out  for  the  first  signs  of  the 
dread  retribution.  They  watched,  therefore,  with  skilled 
and  practiced  eyes,  and  learned  to  read,  with  great  accu- 
racy, the  state  of  mind  and  heart  of  the  slave  through  his 
sable  face.  Unusual  sobriety,  apparent  abstraction,  sul- 
lenness,  and  indifference, — indeed,  any  mood  out  of  the 


common  way, — afforded  ground  for  suspicion  and  inquiry. 
Kclying  on  their  superior  position  and  wisdom,  they 
would  often  hector  the  slave  into  a  confession  by  affect- 
ing to  know  the  truth  of  their  accusations.  "You  have 
got  the  devil  in  you,  and  we'll  whip  him  out  of  you,"  they 
would  say.  I  have  often  been  put  thus  to  the  torture  on 
bare  suspicion.  This  system  had  its  disadvantages  as 
well  as  its  opposite — the  slave  being  sometimes  whipped 
into  the  confession  of  offenses  which  he  never  committed. 
It  will  be  seen  that  the  good  old  rule,  "A  man  is  to  be 
held  innocent  ^until  proved  to  be  guilty,"  did  not  hold 
good  on  the  slave  plantation.  Suspicion  and  torture  were 
the  approved  methods  of  getting  at  the  truth  there.  It 
was  necessary,  therefore,  for  me  to  keep  a  watch  over  my 
deportment,  lest  the  enemy  should  get  the  better  of  me. 
But  with  all  our  caution  and  studied  reserve,  I  am  not 
sure  that  Mr.  Freeland  did  not  suspect  that  all  was  not 
riorht  with  us.  It  did  seem  that  he  watched  us  more 
narrowly  after  the  plan  of  escape  had  been  conceived  and 
discussed  amongst  us.  Men  seldom  see  themselves  as 
others  see  them ;  and  while  to  our  selveseverything  con- 
nected with  our  contemplated  escape  appeared  concealed, 
Mr.  Freeland  may,  with  the  peculiar  prescience  of  a  slave- 
holder, have  mastered  the  huge  thought  which  was  dis- 
turbing our  peace.  As  I  now  look  back,  I  am  the  more 
inclined  to  think  he  suspected  us,  because,  prudent  as  we 
were,  I  can  see  that  we  did  many  silly  things  well  cal- 
culated to  awaken  suspicion.  We  were  at  times  remark- 
ably buoyant,  singing  hymns,  and  making  joyous  excla- 
mations, almost  as  triumphant  in  their  tone  as  if  we  had 
reached  a  land  of  freedom  and  safety.  A  keen  observer 
might  have  detected  in  our  repeated  singing  of 

"  O  Canaan,  sweet  Canaan, 

I  am  bound  for  the  land  of  Canaan," 

I   AM   THE   MAN.  197 

something  more  than   a  hope  of  reaching  heaven.     We 
meant  to  reach  the  Norths  and  the  North  was  our  Canaan. 

"I  thought  I  heard  them  say- 
There  were  lions  in  the  way  ; 
I  don't  expect  to  stay 

Much  longer  here. 
Run  to  Jesus,  shun  the  danger. 

I  don't  expect  to  stay 

Much  longer  here," 

was  a  favorite  air,  and  had  a  double  meaning.  On  the 
lips  of  some  it  meant  the  expectation  of  a  speedy  sum- 
mons to  a  world  of  spirits ;  but  on  the  lips  of  our  com- 
pany it  simply  meant  a  speedy  pilgrimage  to  a  free  State, 
and  deliverance  from  all  the  evils  and  dangers  of  slavery. 
I  had  succeeded  in  winning  to  my  scheme  a  company 
of  five  young  men,  the  very  flower  of  the  neighborhood, 
each  one  of  whom  would  have  commanded  one  thousand 
dollars  in  the  home  market.  At  New  Orleans  they  would 
have  brought  fifteen  hundred  dollars  apiece,  and  perhaps 
more.  Their  names  were  as  follows :  Henry  Harris, 
John  Harris,  Sandy  Jenkins,  Charles  Roberts,  and  Henry 
Bailey.  I  was  the  youngest  but  one  of  the  party.  I  had, 
however,  the  advantage  of  them  all  in  experience,  and  in 
a  knowledge  of  letters.  This  gave  me  a  great  influence 
over  them.  Perhaps  not  one  of  them,  left  to  himself, 
would  have  dreamed  of  escape  as  a  possible  thing.  They 
all  wanted  to  be  free,  but  the  serious  thought  of  running 
away  had  not  entered  into  their  minds  until  I  won  them 
to  the  undertaking.  They  were  all  tolerably  well  off — 
for  slaves — and  had  dim  hopes  of  being  set  free  some  day 
by  their  masters.  If  any  one  is  to  blame  for  disturbing 
the  quiet  of  the  slaves  and  slave-masters  of  the  neighbor- 
hood of  St.  Michaels,  I  am  the  man.  I  claim  to  be  the 
instigator  of  the  high  crime  (as  the  slaveholders 
regarded  it),  and  I  kept  life  in  it  till  life  could  be  kept  in 
it  no  longer. 


Pending  the  time  of  our  contemplated  departure  out  of 
our  Egypt,  we  met  often  by  night,  and  on  every  Sunday. 
At  these  meetings  we  talked  the  matter  over,  told  our 
hopes  and  fears,  and  the  difficulties  discovered  or 
imagined ;  and,  like  men  of  sense,  we  counted  the  cost  of 
the  enterprise  to  which  we  were  committing  ourselves. 
These  meetings  must  have  resembled,  on  a  small  scale, 
the  meetings  of  the  revolutionary  conspirators  in  their 
primary  condition.  We  were  plotting  against  our  (so- 
called)  lawful  rulers,  with  this  difference — we  sought  our 
own  good,  and  not  the  harm  of  our  enemies.  We  did 
not  seek  to  overthrow  them,  but  to  escape  from  them. 
As  for  Mr.  Freeland,  we  all  liked  him,  and  would  gladly 
have  remained  with  him  as  free  men.  Liberty  was  our 
aim,  and  we  had  now  come  to  think  that  we  had  a  right 
to  it  against  every  obstacle,  even  against  the  lives  of  our 

We  had  several  words,  expressive  of  things  important 
to  us,  which  we  understood,  but  which,  even  if  distinctly 
heard  by  an  outsider,  would  have  conveyed  no  certain 
meaning.  I  hated  this  secrecy,  but  where  slavery  was 
powerful,  and  liberty  weak,  the  latter  was  driven  to  con- 
cealment or  destruction. 

The  prospect  was  not  always  bright.  At  times  we 
were  almost  tempted  to  abandon  the  enterprise,  and  to 
try  to  get  back  to  that  comparative  peace  of  mind  which 
even  a  man  under  the  gallows  might  feel  when  all  hope  of 
escape  had  vanished.  We  were  confident,  bold,  and  deter- 
mined, at  times,  and  again  doubting,  timid,  and  wavering, 
whistling,  like  the  boy  in  the  grave-yard,  to  keep  away 
the  spirits. 

To  look  at  the  map  and  observe  the  proximity  of  East- 
ern shore,  Maryland,  to  Delaware  and  Pennsylvania,  it 
may  seem  to  the  reader  quite  absurd  to  regard  the  pro- 
posed escape  as  a  formidable  undertaking.     But  to  under- 


stand,  some  one  has  said,  a  man  must  stand  under.  The 
real  distance  was  great  enough,  but  the  imagined  distance 
was,  to  our  ignorance,  much  greater.  Slaveholders 
sought  to  impress  their  slaves  with  a  belief  in  the  bound- 
lessness of  slave  territory,  and  of  their  own  limitless 
power.  Our  notions  of  the  geography  of  the  country 
were  very  vague  and  indistinct.  The  distance,  however, 
was  not  the  chief  trouble,  for  the  nearer  the  lines  of  a 
slave  state  to  the  borders  of  a  free  state  the  greater  was 
the  trouble.  Hired  kidnappers  infested  the  borders. 
Then,  too,  we  knew  that  merely  reaching  a  free  state  did 
not  free  us,  that  wherever  caught  we  could  be  returned  to 
slavery.  We  knew  of  no  spot  this  side  the  ocean  where 
we  could  be  safe.  We  had  heard  of  Canada,  then  the 
only  real  Canaan  of  the  American  bondman,  simply  as  a 
country  to  whicli  the  wild  goose  and  the  swan  repaired  at 
the  end  of  winter  to  escape  the  heat  of  summer,  but  not  as 
the  home  of  man.  I  knew  something  of  theology,  but 
nothing  of  geography.  I  really  did  not  know  that  there 
was  a  State  of  New  York,  or  a  State  of  Massachusetts. 
I  had  heard  of  Pennsylvania,  Delaware,  and  New  Jersey, 
and  all  the  Southern  States,  but  was  utterly  ignorant  of 
the  free  States.  New  York  City  was  our  northern  limit, 
and  to  go  there  and  to  be  forever  harassed  with  the  lia- 
bility of  being  hunted  down  and  returned  to  slavery,  with 
the  certainty  of  being  treated  ten  times  worse  than  ever 
before,  was  a  prospect  which  might  well  cause  some  hesi- 
tation. The  case  sometimes,  to  our  excited  visions,  stood 
thus :  At  every  gate  through  which  we  had  to  pass  we 
saw  a  watchman;  at  every  ferry  a  guard;  on  every 
bridge  a  sentinel,  and  in  every  wood  a  patrol  or  slave- 
hunter.  We  were  hemmed  in  on  every  side.  The  good 
to  be  sought  and  the  evil  to  be  shunned  were  flung  in  the 
balance  and  weighed  against  each  other.  On  the  one 
hand    stood    slavery,  a  stern  reality  glaring  frightfully 


upon  US,  with  the  blood  of  millions  in  its  polluted  skirts, 
terrible  to  behold,  greedily  devouring  our  hard  earnings 
and  feeding  it  upon  our  flesh.  This  was  the  evil  from 
which  to  escape.  On  the  other  hand,  far  away,  back  in 
the  hazy  distance,  where  all  forms  seemed  but  shadows 
under  the  flickering  light  of  the  north  star,  behind  some 
craggy  hill  or  snow-capped  mountain,  stood  a  doubtful 
freedom,  half  frozen,  beckoning  us  to  her  icy  domain. 
This  was  the  good  to  be  sought.  The  inequality  was  as 
great  as  that  between  certainty  and  uncertainty.  This  in 
itself  was  enough  to  stagger  us ;  but  when  we  came  to  sur- 
vey the  untrodden  road  and  conjecture  the  many  possible 
difficulties,  we  were  appalled,  and  at  times,  as  I  have  said, 
were  upon  the  point  of  giving  over  the  struggle  altogether. 
The  reader  can  have  little  idea  of  the  phantoms  which 
would  flit,  in  such  circumstances,  before  the  uneducated 
mind  of  the  slave.  Upon  either  side  we  saw  grim  death, 
assuming  a  variety  of  horrid  shapes.  Now  it  was  star- 
vation, causing  us,  in  a  strange  and  friendless  land,  to 
eat  our  own  flesh.  Now  we  were  contending  with  the 
waves  and  were  drowned.  Now  we  were  hunted  by  dogs 
and  overtaken,  and  torn  to  pieces  by  their  merciless  fangs. 
We  were  stung  by  scorpions,  chased  by  wild  beasts,  bitten 
by  snakes,  and  worst  of  all,  after  having  succeeded  in 
swimming  rivers,  encountering  wild  beasts,  sleeping  in 
the  woods,  suffering  hunger,  cold,  heat,  and  nakedness, 
overtaken  by  hired  kidnappers,  who,  in  the  name  of  law 
and  for  the  thrice-cursed  reward,  would,  perchance,  fire 
upon  us,  kill  some,  wound  others,  and  capture  all.  This 
dark  picture,  drawn  by  ignorance  and  fear,  at  times  greatly 
shook  our  determination,  and  not  unfrequently  caused 
us  to 

'*  Rather  bear  the  ills  we  had, 
Than  flee  to  others  which  we  knew  not  of." 


I  am  not  disposed  to  magnify  tliis  circumstance  in  my 
experience,  and  yet  I  think  I  shall  seem  to  be  so  disposed 
to  the  reader,  but  no  man  can  tell  the  intense  agony  which 
was  felt  by  the  slave  when  wavering  on  the  point  of 
making  his  escape.  All  that  he  has  is  at  stake,  and  even 
that  which  he  has  not  is  at  stake  also.  The  life  which  he 
has  may  be  lost,  and  the  liberty  which  he  seeks  may  not 
be  o;ained. 

Patrick  Henry,  to  a  listening  senate  which  was  thrilled 
by  his  magic  eloquence  and  ready  to  stand  by  him  in  his 
boldest  flights,  could  say,  "  Give  me  liberty  or  give  me 
death  ;"  and  this  saying  was  a  sublime  one,  even  for  a 
freeman;  but  incomparably  more  sublime  is  the  same 
sentiment  when  practically  asserted  by  men  accustomed 
to  the  lash  and  chain,  men  whose  sensibilities  must  have 
become  more  or  less  deadened  by  their  bondage.  With 
us  it  was  a  doubtful  liberty,  at  best,  that  we  sought,  and 
a  certain  lingering  death  in  the  rice-swamps  and  sugar- 
fields  if  we  failed.  Life  is  not  lightly  regarded  by  men 
of  sane  minds.  It  is  precious  both  to  the  pauper  and  to 
the  prince,  to  the  slave  and  to  his  master ;  and  yet  I 
believe  there  was  not  one  among  us  who  would  not  rather 
have  been  shot  down  than  pass  away  life  in  hopeless 

In  the  progress  of  our  preparations  Sandy  (the  root 
man)  became  troubled.  He  began  to  have  distressing 
dreams.  One  of  these,  which  happened  on  a  Friday 
night,  was  to  him  of  great  significance,  and  I  am  quite 
ready  to  confess  that  I  felt  somewhat  damped  by  it  my- 
self. He  said  :  "  I  dreamed  last  night  that  I  was  roused 
from  sleep  by  strange  noises,  like  the  noises  of  a  swarm 
of  angry  birds  that  caused  a  roar  as  they  passed,  and 
which  fell  upon  my  ear  like  a  coming  gale  over  the  tops 
of  the  trees.  Looking  up  to  see  what  it  could  mean  I 
saw  you,  Frederick,  in  the  claws  of  a  huge  bird,  surrounded 

202  Sandy's  dream. 

by  a  large  number  of  birds  of  all  colors  and  sizes.  These 
were  all  pecking  at  you,  while  you,  with  your  arms,  seemed 
to  be  trying  to  protect  your  eyes.  Passing  over  me,  the 
birds  flew  in  a  southwesterly  direction,  and  I  watched 
them  until  they  were  clean  out  of  sight.  Now  I  saw  this 
as  plainly  as  I  now  see  you ;  and  furder,  honey,  watch 
de  Friday  night  dream;  dere  is  sumpon  in  it  sliose  you 
born  ;  dere  is  indeed,  honey."  I  did  not  like  the  dream, 
but  I  showed  no  concern,  attributing  it  to  the  general 
excitement  and  perturbation  consequent  upon  our  con* 
templated  plan  to  escape.  I  could  not,  however,  shake 
off  its  effect  at  once.  I  felt  that  it  boded  no  good. 
Sandy  was  unusually  emphatic  and  oracular,  and  his 
manner  had  much  to  do  with  the  impression  made  upon 

The  plan  which  I  recommended,  and  to  which  my  com- 
rades consented,  for  our  escape,  was  to  take  a  large  canoe 
owned  by  Mr.  Hamilton,  and  on  the  Saturday  night  pre- 
vious to  the  Easter  holidays  launch  out  into  the  Chesa- 
peake bay  and  paddle  for  its  head,  a  distance  of  seventy 
miles,  with  all  our  might.  On  reaching  this  point  we 
were  to  turn  the  canoe  adrift  and  bend  our  steps  toward 
the  north-star  till  we  reached  a  free  state. 

There  were  several  objections  to  this  plan.  In  rough 
weather  the  waters  of  the  Chesapeake  are  much  agitated, 
and  there  would  be  danger,  in  a  canoe,  of  being  swamped 
by  the  waves.  Another  objection  was  that  the  canoe 
would  soon  be  missed,  the  absent  slaves  would  at  once  be 
suspected  of  having  taken  it,  and  we  should  be  pursued 
by  some  of  the  fast-sailing  craft  out  of  St.  Michaels. 
Then  again,  if  we  reached  the  head  of  the  bay  and  turned 
the  canoe  adrift,  she  might  prove  a  guide  to  our  track 
and  bring  the  hunters  after  us. 

These  and  other  objections  were  set  aside  by  the  stronger 
ones,  which  could  be  urged  against  every  other  plan  that 

GIVES   THEM    A   PASS.  203 

could  then  be  suggested.  On  the  water  we  had  a  chance 
of  being  regarded  as  fishermen,  in  the  service  of  a 
master.  On  the  other  hand,  by  taking  the  land  route, 
through  the  counties  adjoining  Delaware,  we  should  be 
subjected  to  all  manner  of  interruptions,  and  many  disa- 
greeable questions,  which  might  give  us  serious  trouble. 
Any  white  man,  if  he  pleased,  was  authorized  to  stop  a 
man  of  color  on  any  road,  and  examine  and  arrest  him. 
By  this  arrangement  many  abuses  (considered  such  even 
by  slaveholders)  occurred.  Cases  have  been  known 
where  freemen,  being  called  upon  to  show  their  free 
papers  by  a  pack  of  ruffians,  and  on  the  presentation  of 
the  papers,  the  ruffians  have  torn  them  up,  and  seized 
the  victim  and  sold  him  to  a  life  of  endless  bondage. 

The  week  before  our  intended  start,  I  wrote  a  pass  for 
each  of  our  party,  giving  them  permission  to  visit  Balti- 
more during  the  Easter  holidays.  The  pass  ran  after  this 
manner : 

"  This  is  to  certify  that  I,  the  undersigned,  have  given 
the  bearer,  my  servant  John,  full  liberty  to  go  to  Balti- 
more to  spend  the  Easter  holidays.  w.  h. 

Near  St.  Michaels,  Talbot  Co.,  Md." 

Although  we  were  not  going  to  Baltimore,  and  were 
intending  to  land  east  of  North  Point,  in  the  direction  I 
had  seen  the  Philadelphia  steamers  go,  these  passes  might 
be  useful  to  us  in  the  lower  part  of  the  bay,  while  steering 
towards  Baltimore.  These  were  not,  however,  to  be 
shown  by  us,  until  all  other  answers  failed  to  satisfy  the 
inquirer.  We  were  all  fully  alive  to  the  importance  of 
being  calm  and  self-possessed  when  accosted,  if  accosted 
we  should  be  ;  and  we  more  than  once  rehearsed  to  each 
other  how  we  should  behave  in  the  hour  of  trial. 

Those  were  long,  tedious  days  and  nights.  The  sus- 
pense was  painful  in  the  extreme.  To  balance  probabili- 

20-4  ANXIOUS   DAYS. 

ties,  where  life  and  liberty  hang  on  the  result,  requires 
steady  nerves.  I  panted  for  action,  and  was  glad  when 
the  day,  at  the  close  of  which  we  were  to  start,  dawned 
upon  us.  Sleeping  the  night  before  was  out  of  the 
question.  I  probably  felt  more  deeply  than  any  of  my 
companions,  because  I  was  the  instigator  of  the  move- 
ment. The  responsibility  of  the  whole  enterprise  rested 
on  my  shoulders.  The  glory  of  success,  and  the  shame 
and  confusion  of  failure,  could  not  be  matters  of  indiffer- 
ence to  me.  Our  food  was  prepared,  our  clothes  were 
packed  ;  we  were  already  to  go,  and  impatient  for  Satur- 
day morning — considering  that  the  last  of  our  bondage. 

I  cannot  describe  the  tempest  and  tumult  of  my  brain 
that  morning.  Tlie  reader  will  please  bear  in  mind  that 
in  a  slave  State  an  unsuccessful  runaway  was  not  only 
subjected  to  cruel  torture,  and  sold  away  to  the  far  South, 
but  he  was  frequently  execrated  by  the  other  slaves.  He 
was  charged  with  making  the  condition  of  the  other 
slaves  intolerable  by  laying  them  all  under  the  suspicion 
of  their  masters — subjecting  them  to  greater  vigilance, 
and  imposing  greater  limitations  on  their  privileges.  I 
dreaded  murmurs  from  this  quarter.  It  was  difficult,  too, 
for  a  slave-master  to  believe  that  slaves  escaping  had  not 
been  aided  in  their  flight  by  some  one  of  their  fellow- 
slaves.  When,  therefore,  a  slave  was  missing,  every  slave 
on  the  place  was  closely  examined  as  to  his  knowledge  of 
the  undertaking. 

Our  anxiety  grew  more  and  more  intense,  as  the  time 
of  our  intended  departure  drew  nigh.  It  was  truly  felt  to 
be  a  matter  of  life  and  death  with  us,  and  we  fully 
intended  to  fight^  as  well  as  run^  if  necessity  should  occur 
for  that  extremity.  But  the  trial-hour  had  not  yet  come. 
It  was  easy  to  resolve,  but  not  so  easy  to  act.  I  expected 
there  might  be  some  drawing  back  at  the  last ;  it  was 
natural  there  should  be ;  therefore,  during  the  interven- 

MATTER   OF   LIFE   AND    DEATH.  205 

ing  time,  I  lost  no  opportunity  to  explain  away  difficulties, 
remove  doubts,  dispel  fears,  and  inspire  all  with  firmness. 
It  was  too  late  to  look  back,  and  now  was  the  time  to  go 
forward.  I  appealed  to  the  pride  of  my  comrades  by  tell- 
ing them  that  if  after  having  solemnly  promised  to  go,  as 
they  had  done,  they  now  failed  to  make  the  attempt,  they 
would  in  effect  brand  themselves  with  cowardice,  and 
might  well  sit  down,  fold  their  arms,  and  acknowledge 
themselves  fit  only  to  be  slaves.  This  detestable  cliarac- 
ter  all  were  unwilling  to  assume.  Every  man  except 
Sandy  (he,  much  to  our  regret,  withdrew)  stood  firm,  and 
at  our  last  meeting  we  pledged  ourselves  afresh,  and  in 
the  most  solemn  manner,  that  at  the  time  appointed  we 
would  certainly  start  on  our  long  journey  for  a  free  coun- 
try. This  meeting  was  in  the  middle  of  the  week,  at  tlie 
end  of  which  we  were  to  start. 

Early  on  the  appointed  morning  we  went  as  usual  to  the 
field,  but  with  hearts  that  beat  quickly  and  anxiously.  Any 
one  intimately  acquainted  with  us  might  have  seen  that  all 
was  not  well  with  us,  and  that  some  monster  lingered  in 
our  thoughts.  Our  work  that  morning  was  the  same  as 
it  had  been  for  several  days  past — drawing  out  and 
spreading  manure.  While  thus  engaged,  I  had  a  sudden 
presentiment,  which  flashed  upon  me  like  lightning  in  a 
dark  night,  revealing  to  the  lonely  traveler  the  gulf  before 
and  the  enemy  behind.  I  instantly  turned  to  Sandy  Jen- 
kins, who  was  near  me,  and  said :  "  Sandy ^  ive  are 
betrayed  ! — something  has  just  told  me  so."  I  felt  as  sure 
of  it  as  if  the  officers  were  in  sight.  Sandy  said  :  "Man, 
dat  is  strange  ;  but  I  f^l  just  as  you  do."  If  my  mother 
— then  long  in  her  gmve — had  appeared  before  me  and 
told  me  that  we  were  betrayed,  I  could  not  at  that  mo- 
ment have  felt  more  certain  of  the  fact. 

In  a  few  minutes  after  this,  the  long,  low,  and  distant 
notes  of  the  horn  summoned  us  from  the  field  to  break- 


fast.  I  felt  as  one  may  be  supposed  to  feel  before  being 
led  forth  to  be  executed  for  some  great  offense.  I  wanted 
no  breakfast,  but  I  went  with  the  other  slaves  toward  the 
liouse  for  form's  sake.  My  feelings  were  not  disturbed 
as  to  the  riglit  of  running  away ;  on  that  point  I  had  no 
misgiving  whatever,  but  from  a  sense  of  the  consequences 
of  failure. 

In  thirty  minutes  after  that  vivid  impression  came  the 
apprehended  crash.  On  reaching  the  house,  and  glancing 
my  eye  toward  the  lane  gate,  the  worst  was  at  once  made 
known.  The  lane  gate  to  Mr.  Freeland's  house  was 
nearly  half  a  mile  from  the  door,  and  much  shaded  by 
the  heavy  wood  which  bordered  the  main  road.  I  was,  how- 
ever, able  to  descry  four  white  men  and  two  colored  men 
approaching.  The  white  men  were  on  horseback,  and  the 
colored  men  were  walking  behind,  and  seemed  to  be  tied. 
''It  is  indeed  all  over  with  us ;  we  are  surely  hetrayed^"^  I 
thought  to  myself.  I  became  composed,  or  at  least  com- 
paratively so,  and  calmly  awaited  the  result.  I  watched 
the  ill-omened  company  entering  the  gate.  Successful 
flight  was  impossible,  and  I  made  up  my  mind  to  stand 
and  meet  the  evil,  whatever  it  might  be,  for  I  was  not 
altogether  without  a  slight  hope  that  things  might  turn 
differently  from  what  I  had  at  first  feared.  In  a  few 
moments  in  came  Mr.  William  Hamilton,  riding  very 
rapidly  and  evidently  much  excited.  He  was  in  the 
habit  of  riding  very  slowly,  and  was  seldom  known  to 
gallop  his  horse.  This  time  his  horse  was  nearly  at  full 
speed,  causing  the  dust  to  roll  thick  behind  him.  Mr. 
Hamilton,  though  one  of  the  most  resolute  men  in  the 
whole  neighborhood,  was,  nevertheless,  a  remarkably 
mild-spoken  man,  and  even  when  greatly  excited  his  lan- 
guage was  cool  and  circumspect.  He  came  to  the  door, 
and  inquired  if  Mr.  Frceland  was  in.  I  told  him  that 
Mr.  Freeland  was  at  the  barn.     Off  the   old  gentleman 

A   BRAVE   FELLOW.  207 

rode  toward  the  barn,  with  unwonted  speed.  In  a  few 
moments  Mr.  Hamilton  and  Mr.  Freeland  came  down 
from  the  barn  to  the  house,  and  just  as  they  made  their 
appearance  in  the  front-yard,  three  men,  who  proved  to  be 
constables,  came  dashing  into  the  lane  on  horse-back,  as 
if  summoned  by  a  sign  requiring  quick  work.  A  few 
seconds  brought  them  into  tlie  front-yard,  where  they 
hastily  dismounted  and  tied  their  horses.  This  done,  they 
joined  Mr.  Freeland  and  Mr.  Hamilton,  who  were  stand- 
ing a  short  distance  from  tlie  kitchen.  A  few  moments 
were  spent  as  if  in  consulting  how  to  proceed,  and  then 
the  whole  party  walked  up  to  the  kitchen-door.  There 
was  now  no  one  in  the  kitchen  but  myself  and  John  Har- 
ris ;  Henry  and  Sandy  were  yet  in  the  barn.  Mr.  Free- 
land  came  inside  the  kitchen-door,  and,  with  an  agitated 
voice,  called  me  by  name,  and  told  me  to  come  forward ; 
that  there  were  some  gentlemen  who  wished  to  see  me. 
I  stepped  toward  them  at  the  door,  and  asked  what  they 
wanted ;  when  the  constables  grabbed  me,  and  told  me 
that  I  had  better  not  resist ;  that  I  had  been  in  a  scrape, 
or  was  said  to  have  been  in  one ;  that  they  were  merely 
going  to  take  me  where  I  could  be  examined ;  that 
they  would  have  me  brought  before  my  master  at  St. 
Michaels,  and  if  the  evidence  against  me  was  not 
proved  true  I  should  be  acquitted.  I  was  now  firmly  tied, 
and  completely  at  the  mercy  of  my  captors.  Resistance 
was  idle.  They  were  five  in  number,  armed  to  the  teeth. 
When  they  had  secured  me,  they  turned  to  John  Harris, 
and  in  a  few  moments  succeeded  in  tying  him  as  firmly 
as  they  had  tied  me.  They  next  turned  toward  Henry 
Harris,  who  had  now  returned  from  the  barn.  "Cross 
your  hands,"  said  the  constable  to  Henry.  "I  won't," 
said  Henry,  in  a  voice  so  firm  and  clear,  and  in  a  manner 
so  determined,  as  for  a  moment  to  arrest  all  proceedings. 
"Won't  you  cross  your  hands  ?"  said  Tom  Graham,  the 

208  henry's  resistance. 

constable.  "iVb,  /  worbt^''  said  Henry,  with  increasing 
emphasis.  Mr.  Hamilton,  Mr.  Freeland,  and  the  officers 
now  came  near  to  Henry.  Two  of  the  constables  drew 
out  their  shining  pistols,  and  swore,  by  the  name  of  God, 
tliat  he  should  cross  his  hands  or  they  would  shoot  him 
down.  Each  of  these  hired  ruffians  now  cocked  their 
pistols,  and,  with  fingers  apparently  on  the  triggers,  pre- 
sented their  deadly  weapons  to  the  breast  of  the  unarmed 
slave,  saying,  if  he  did  not  cross  his  hands,  they  would 

"blow  his  d d  heart  out  of  him."     "'Shoot  me,  shoot 

mg,"  said  Henry ;  "you  can't  kill  me  but  once.  Shoot, 
shoot,  and  be  damned  !  I  won't  be  tied  !"  This  the  brave 
fellow  said  in  a  voice  as  defiant  and  heroic  in  its  tone  as 
was  the  language  itself;  and  at  the  moment  of  saying  this, 
with  the  pistols  at  his  very  breast,  he  quickly  raised  his 
arms,  and  dashed  them  from  the  puny  hands  of  his 
assassins,  the  weapons  flying  in  all  directions.  Now 
came  the  struggle.  All  hands  rushed  upon  the  brave 
fellow,  and  after  beating  him  for  some  time  they  suc- 
ceeded in  overpowering  and  tying  him.  Henry  put  me  to 
shame  ;  he  fought,  and  fought  bravely.  John  and  I  had 
made  no  resistance.  The  fact  is,  I  never  saw  much  use  of 
fighting  where  there  w^as  no  reasonable  probability  of 
whipping  anybody.  Yet  there  was  something  almost 
providential  in  the  resistance  made  by  Henry.  But  for 
that  resistance  every  soul  of  us  would  have  been  hurried 
off  to  the  far  South.  Just  a  moment  previous  to  the 
trouble  with  Henry,  Mr.  Hamilton  mildly  said, — and  this 
gave  me  the  unmistakable  clue  to  the  cause  of  our  arrest, 
— "  Perhaps  we  had  now  better  make  a  search  for  those 
protections,  which  we  understand  Frederick  has  written 
for  himself  and  the  rest."  Had  these  passes  been  found, 
they  would  have  been  point-blank  evidence  against  us, 
and  would  have  confirmed  all  the  statements  of  our 
betrayer.     Thanks  to  the  resistance  of  Henry,  the  excite- 

Driven  to  Jail  for  Kunning  Away. 


ment  produced  by  tlie  scuffle  drew  all  attention  in  that 
direction,  and  I  succeeded  in  flinging  my  pass,  unob- 
served, into  the  fire.  The  confusion  attendant  on  the 
scuffle,  and  the  apprehension  of  still  further  trouble,  per- 
haps, led  our  captors  to  forego,  for  the  time,  any  search 
for  '^those  protections  which  Frederick  was  said  to  have 
written  for  his  companions";  so  we  were  not  yet  con- 
victed of  the  purpose  to  run  away,  and  it  was  evident 
that  there  was  some  doubt  on  the  part  of  all  whether  we 
had  been  guilty  of  such  purpose. 

Just  as  we  were  all  completely  tied,  and  about  ready  to 
start  toward  St.  Michaels,  and  thence  to  jail,  Mrs.  Betsey 
Freeland  (mother  to  William,  who  was  much  attached, 
after  the  Southern  fashion,  to  Henry  and  John,  they  hav- 
ing been  reared  from  childhood  in  her  house)  came  to 
the  kitchen-door  with  her  hands  full  of  biscuits,  for  we 
had  not  had  our  breakfast  that  morning,  and  divided 
them  between  Henry  and  John.  This  done,  the  lady 
made  the  following  parting  address  to  me,  pointing  her 
bony  finger  at  me :  ''You  devil !  you  yellow  devil !  It 
was  you  who  put  it  into  the  heads  of  Henry  and  John  to 
run  away.  But  for  ^ou,  you  long-legged^  yellow  devil, 
Henry  and  John  would  never  have  thought  of  running 
away."  I  gave  the  lady  a  look  which  called  forth  from 
her  a  scream  of  mingled  wrath  and  terror,  as  she 
slammed  the  kitchen-door  and  went  in,  leaving  me,  with 
the  rest,  in  hands  W  harsh  as  her  own  broken  voice. 

Could' the  kind  reader  have  been  riding  along  the  main 
road  to  or  from  Easton  that  morning,  his  eye  would  have 
met  a  painful  sighlh  He  would  have  seen  five  young  men, 
guilty  of  no  crime  save  that  of  preferring  liberty  to  slav- 
ery^ drawn  along  the  public  highway — firmly  bound 
together,  tramping  through  dust  and  heat,  bare-footed 
and  bare-headed — fastened  to  three  strong  horses,  whose 
riders  were  armed  with  pistols  and  daggers,  on  their  way 


to  prison  like  felons,  and  suffering  every  possible  insult 
from  the  crowds  of  idle,  vulgar  people  who  clustered 
round,  and  heartlessly  made  their  failure  to  escape  the 
occasion  for  all  manner  of  ribaldry  and  sport.  As  I 
looked  upon  this  crowd  of  vile  persons,  and  saw  myself 
and  friends  thus  assailed  and  persecuted,  I  could  not  help 
seeing  the  fulfillment  of  Sandy's  dream.  I  was  in  the 
hands  of  moral  vultures,  and  held  in  their  sharp  talons, 
and  was  being  hurried  away  toward  Easton,  in  a  south- 
easterly direction,  amid  the  jeers  of  new  birds  of  the 
same  feather,  through  every  neighborhood  we  passed. 
It  seemed  to  me  that  everybody  was  out,  and  knew  the 
cause  of  our  arrest,  and  awaited  our  passing  in  order  to 
feast  their  vindictive  eyes  on  our  misery. 

Some  said  ''I ought  to  hehanged,^^  and  others,  "/  ought 
to  he  burned  "  ;  others,  I  ought  to  have  the  "hide"  taken 
off  my  back ;  while  no  one  gave  us  a  kind  word  or  sympa- 
thizing look,  except  the  poor  slaves  who  were  lifting  their 
heavy  hoes,  and  who  cautiously  glanced  at  us  througli  the 
post-and-rail  fences,  behind  which  they  were  at  work. 
Our  sufferings  that  morning  can  be  more  easily  imagined 
than  described.  Our  hopes  were  all  blasted  at  one  blow. 
The  cruel  injustice,  the  victorious  crime,  and  the  help- 
lessness of  innocence,  led  me  to  ask  in  my  ignorance  and 
weakness :  Where  is  now  the  God  of  justice  and  mercy  ? 
and  why  have  these  wicked  men  the  power  thus  to 
trample  upon  our  rights,  and  to  insult  our  feelings  ? 
and  yet  in  the  next  moment  came  the  consoling  thought, 
"the  day  of  the  oppressor  will  come  at  last."  Of  one 
thing  I  could  be  glad :  not  one  of  my  dear  friends  upon 
whom  I  had  brought  this  great  calamity,  either  by  word 
or  look,  reproached  me  for  having  led  them  into  it.  We 
were  a  band  of  brothers,  and  never  dearer  to  each  other 
than  now.  The  thought  which  gave  us  the  most  pain 
was  the  probable    separation  which  would    now    take 

WHO    BETRAYED   THEM  ?  213 

place  in  case  we  were  sold  off  to  the  far  South,  as  we 
were  likely  to  be.  While  the  constables  were  looking 
forward,  Henry  and  I  being  fastened  together,  could 
occasionally  exchange  a  word  without  being  observed  by 
the  kidnappers  who  had  us  in  charge.  "What  shall  I  do 
with  my  pass  ?"  said  Henry.  "Eat  it  with  your  biscuit," 
said  I ;  "it  won't  do  to  tear  it  up."  We  were  now  near 
St.  Michaels.  The  direction  concerning  the  passes  was 
passed  around,  and  executed.  "Own  nothing,"  said  I. 
"Own  nothing"  was  passed  round,  enjoined,  and  assented 
to.  Our  confidence  in  each  other  was  unshaken,  and  we 
were  quite  resolved  to  succeed  or  fail  together ;  as  miich 
after  the  calamity  which  had  befallen  us  as  before. 

On  reaching  St.  Michaels  we  underwent  a  sort  of  exam- 
ination at  my  master's  store,  and  it  was  evident  to  my 
mind  that  Master  Thomas  suspected  the  truthfulness  of 
the  evidence  upon  which  they  had  acted  in  arresting  us, 
and  that  he  only  affected,  to  some  extent,  the  positiveness 
with  which  he  asserted  our  guilt.  There  was  nothing 
said  by  any  of  our  company  which  could,  in  any  manner, 
prejudice  our  cause,  and  there  was  hope  yet  that  we 
should  be  able  to  return  to  our  homes,  if  for  nothing  else,  at 
least  to  find  out  the  guilty  man  or  woman  who  betrayed 

To  this  end  we  all  denied  that  we  had  been  guilty  of 
intended  flight.  Master  Thomas  said  that  the  evidence 
he  had  of  our  intention  to  run  away  was  strong  enough  to 
hang  us  in  a  case  of  murder.  "But,"  said  I,  "the  cases 
are  not  equal ;  if  murder  were  committed, — the  thing  is 
done  !  but  we  have  not  run  away.  Where  is  the  evidence 
against  us?  We  were  quietly  at  our  work."  I  talked  thus 
with  unusual  freedom,  to  bring  out  the  evidence  against 
us,  for  we  all  wanted,  above  all  things,  to  know  who  had 
betrayed  us,  that  we  might  have  something  tangible  on 
which  to  pour  our  execrations.     From  something  which 

214  PUT   IN    JAIL. 

dropped,  in  the  course  of  the  talk,  it  appeared  that  there 
was  but  one  witness  against  us,  and  that  that  witness 
could  not  be  produced.  Master  Thomas  would  not  tell  us 
who  his  informant  was,  but  we  suspected,  and  suspected 
one  person  only.  Several  circumstances  seemed  to  point 
Sandy  out  as  our  betrayer.  His  entire  knowledge  of  our 
plans,  his  participation  in  them,  his  withdrawal  from  us, 
his  dream  and  his  simultaneous  presentiment  that  we 
were  betrayed,  the  taking  us  and  the  leaving  him,  were 
calculated  to  turn  suspicion  toward  him,  and  yet  we  could 
not  suspect  him.  We  all  loved  him  too  well  to  think  it 
possible  that  he  could  have  betrayed  us.  So  we  rolled  the 
guilt  on  other  shoulders. 

We  were  literally  dragged,  that  morning,  behind 
horses,  a  distance  of  fifteen  miles,  and  placed  in  the 
Easton  jail.  We  were  glad  to  reach  the  end  of  our 
journey,  for  our  pathway  had  been  full  of  insult  and  mor- 
tification. Such  is  the  power  of  public  opinion,  that  it  is 
hard,  even  for  the  innocent,  to  feel  the  happy  consolation 
of  innocence  when  they  fall  under  the  maledictions  of 
this  power.  How  could  we  regard  ourselves  as  in  the 
right,  when  all  about  us  denounced  us  as  criminals,  and 
had  the  power  and  the  disposition  to  treat  us  as  such. 

In  jail  we  were  placed  under  the  care  of  Mr.  Joseph 
Graham,  the  sheriff  of  the  county.  Henry  and  John  and 
myself  were  placed  in  one  room,  and  Henry  Bailey  and 
Charles  Roberts  in  another  by  themselves.  This  sepa- 
ration was  intended  to  deprive  us  of  the  advantage  of 
concert,  and  to  prevent  trouble  in  jail. 

Once  shut  up,  a  new  set  of  tormentors  came  upon  us. 
A  swarm  of  imps  in  human  shape — the  slave-traders 
and  agents  of  slave-traders — who  gathered  in  every 
country  town  of  the  State  watching  for  chances  to  buy 
human  flesh  (as  buzzards  watch  for  carrion),  flocked  in 
upon  us  to  ascertain  if  our  masters  had  placed  us  in  jail 


to  be  sold.  Such  a  set  of  debased  and  villainous  creatures 
I  never  saw  before  and  hope  never  to  see  again.  I  felt 
as  if  surrounded  by  a  pack  of  fiends  fresh  from  perdition. 
They  laughed,  leered,  and  grinned  at  us,  saying,  "Ah, 
boys,  we  have  got  you,  haven't  we  ?  So  you  were  going  to 
make  your  escape?  Where  were  you  going  to?"  After 
taunting  us  in  this  way  as  long  as  they  liked,  they  one  by 
one  subjected  us  to  an  examination,  with  a  view  to  ascer- 
tain our  value,  feeling  our  arms  and  legs  and  shaking  us 
by  the  shoulders,  to  see  if  we  were  sound  and  healthy, 
impudently  asking  us,  "  how  we  would  like  to  have  them 
for  masters  ? "  To  such  questions  we  were  quite  dumb 
(much  to  their  annoyance).  One  fellow  told  me,  "  if  he 
had  me  he  would  cut  the  devil  out  of  me  pretty  quick." 

These  negro-buyers  were  very  offensive  to  the  genteel 
southern  Christian  public.  They  were  looked  upon  in 
respectable  Maryland  society  as  necessary  but  detesta- 
ble characters.  Asa  class,  they  were  hardened  ruffians, 
made  such  by  nature  and  by  occupation.  Yes,  they  were 
the  legitimate  fruit  of  slavery,  and  were  second  in  vil- 
lainy only  to  the  slaveholders  themselves  who  made  such 
a  class  possible.  They  were  mere  hucksters  of  the  slave 
produce  of  Maryland  and  Virginia — coarse,  cruel,  and 
swaggering  bullies,  whose  very  breathing  was  of  blas- 
phemy and  blood. 

Aside  from  these  slave-buyers  who  infested  the  prison 
from  time  to  time,  our  quarters  were  much  more  com- 
fortable than  we  had  any  right  to  expect  them  to  be. 
Our  allowance  of  food  was  small  and  coarse,  but  our 
room  was  the  best  in  the  jail — neat  and  spacious,  and 
with  nothing  about  it  necessarily  reminding  us  of  being 
in  prison  but  its  heavy  locks  and  bolts  and  the  black  iron 
lattice-work  at  the  windows.  We  were  prisoners  of  state 
compared  with  most  slaves  who  were  put  into  that  Easton 
jail.     But  the  place  was  not  one  of  contentment.     Bolts, 


bars,  and  grated  windows  are  not  acceptable  to  freedom- 
loving  people  of  any  color.  The  suspense,  too,  was  pain- 
ful. Every  step  on  the  stairway  was  listened  to,  in  the 
hope  that  the  comer  would  cast  a  ray  of  light  on  our  fate. 
We  would  have  given  the  hair  of  our  heads  for  half  a 
dozen  words  with  one  of  the  waiters  in  Sol.  Lowe's  hotel. 
Such  waiters  were  in  the  way  of  hearing,  at  the  table, 
the  probable  course  of  things.  We  could  see  them  flit- 
ting about  in  their  white  jackets  in  front  of  this  hotel, 
but  could  speak  to  none  of  them. 

Soon  after  the  holidays  were  over,  contrary  to  all  our 
expectations,  Messrs.  Hamilton  and  Freeland  came  up  to 
Easton ;  not  to  make  a  bargain  with  "  Georgia  traders," 
nor  to  send  us  up  to  Austin  Woldfolk,  as  was  usual  in  the 
case  of  runaway-slaves,  but  to  release  Charles,  Henry 
Harris,  Henry  Bailey,  and  John  Harris  from  prison,  and 
this,  too,  without  the  infliction  of  a  single  blow.  I  was 
left  alone  in  prison.  The  innocent  had  been  taken  and 
the  guilty  left.  My  friends  were  separated  from  me,  and 
apparently  forever.  This  circumstance  caused  me  more 
pain  than  any  other  incident  connected  with  our  capture 
and  imprisonment.  Thirty-nine  lashes  on  n^  naked  and 
bleeding  back  would  have  been  joyfully  borne,  in  prefer- 
ence to  this  separation  from  these,  the  friends  of  my 
youth.  And  yet  I  could  not  but  feel  that  I  was  the  vic- 
tim of  something  like  justice.  Why  should  these  young 
men,  who  were  led  into  this  scheme  by  me,  suffer  as 
much  as  the  instigator?  I  felt  glad  that  they  were 
released  from  prison,  and  from  the  dread  prospect  of  a 
life  (or  death  I  should  rather  say)  in  the  rice-swamps. 
It  is  due  to  the  noble  Henry  to  say  that  he  was  almost  as 
reluctant  to  leave  the  prison  with  me  in  it  as  he  had  been 
to  be  tied  and  dragged  to  prison.  But  he  and  we  all 
knew  that  we  should,  in  all  the  likelihoods  of  the  case,  be 
separated,  in  the  event  of  being  sold ;  and  since  we  were 


completely  in  the  hands  of  our  owners  they  concluded  it 
would  be  best  to  go  peaceably  home. 

Not  until  this  last  separation,  dear  reader,  had  I 
touched  those  profounder  depths  of  desolation  which  it  is 
the  lot  of  slaves  often  to  reach.  I  was  solitary  and  alone 
within  the  walls  of  a  stone  prison,  left  to  a  fate  of  life- 
long misery.  I  had  hoped  and  expected  much,  for  months 
before,  but  my  hopes  and  expectations  were  now  withered 
and  blasted.  The  ever-dreaded  slave  life  in  Georgia, 
Louisiana,  and  Alabama — from  which  escape  was  next 
to  impossible — now  in  my  loneliness  stared  me  in  the 
face.  The  possibility  of  ever  becoming  anything  but  an 
abject  slave,  a  mere  machine  in  the  hands  of  an  owner, 
had  now  fled,  and  it  seemed  to  me  it  had  fled  forever. 
A  life  of  living  death,  beset  with  the  innumerable  horrors 
of  the  cotton- field  and  the  sugar-plantation,  seemed  to  be 
my  doom.  The  fiends  who  rushed  into  the  prison  when 
we  were  first  put  there  continued  to  visit  me  and  ply  me 
with  questions  and  tantalizing  remarks.  I  was  insulted, 
but  helpless ;  keenly  alive  to  the  demands  of  justice  and 
liberty,  but  with^no  means  of  asserting  them.  To  talk 
to  those  imps  about  justice  or  mercy  would  have  been  as 
absurd  as  to  reason  with  bears  and  tigers.  Lead  and 
steel  were  the  only  arguments  that  they  were  capable  of 
appreciating,  as  the  events  of  the  subsequent  years  have 

After  remaining  in  this  life  of  misery  and  despair 
about  a  week,  which  seemed  a  month.  Master  Thomas, 
very  much  to  my  surprise  and  greatly  to  my  relief,  came 
to  the  prison  and  took  me  out,  for  the  purpose,  as  he  said, 
of  sending  me  to  Alabama  with  a  friend  of  his,  who  would 
emancipate  me  at  the  end  of  eight  years.  I  was  glad 
enough  to  get  out  of  prison,  but  1  had  no  faith  in  the 
story  that  his  friend  would  emancipate  me.  Besides,  I 
had  never  heard  of  his  having  a  friend  in  Alabama,  and 


I  took  the  aiiiiouiicemGiit  simply  as  an  easy  and  comforta- 
ble method  of  sliipping  me  off  to  the  far  south.  There 
was  a  little  scandal,  too,  connected  with  the  idea  of  one 
Christian  selling  another  to  Georgia  traders,  while  it  was 
deemed  every  way  proper  for  them  to  sell  to  others.  I 
thought  this  friend  in  Alabama  was  an  invention  to  meet 
this  difficulty,  for  Master  Thomas  was  quite  jealous  of 
his  religious  reputation,  however  unconcerned  he  might 
have  been  about  his  real  Christian  character.  In  these 
remarks  it  is  possible  I  do  him  injustice.  He  certainly 
did  not  exert  his  power  over  me  as  he  might  have  done 
in  the  case,  but  acted,  upon  the  whole,  very  generously, 
considering  the  nature  of  my  offense.  He  had  the  power 
and  the  provocation  to  send  me,  without  reserve,  into  tlie 
very  Everglades  of  Florida,  beyond  the  remotest  hope  of 
emancipation;  and  his  refusal  to  exercise  that  power 
must  be  set  down  to  his  credit. 

After  lingering  about  St.  Michaels  a  few  days,  and  no 
friend  from  Alabama  appearing.  Master  Thomas  decided 
to  send  me  back  again  to  Baltimore,  to  live  with  his 
brother  Hugh,  with  whom  he  was  now  at  peace  ;  possibly 
he  became  so  by  his  profession  of  religion  at  the  camp- 
meeting  in  the  Bay-side.  Master  Thomas  told  me  he 
wished  me  to  go  to  Baltimore  and  learn  a  trade ;  and 
that  if  I  behaved  myself  properly  he  would  emancipate 
me  at  twenty-five.  Thanks  for  this  one  beam  of  hope  in 
the  future  !  The  promise  had  but  one  fault — it  seemed 
too  good  to  be  true. 



Nothing  lost  in  my  attempt  to  run  away — Comrades  at  home — Rea- 
sons for  sending  me  away — Return  to  Baltimore — Tommy  changed 
— Caulking  in  Gardiner's  ship-yard — Desperate  fight — Its  causes — 
— Conflict  between  white  and  black  labor — Outrage — Testimony — 
Master  Hugh — Slavery  in  Baltimore — My  condition  improves — 
— New  associations — Slaveholder's  right  to  the  slave's  wages — How 
to  make  a  discontented  slave. 

WELL,  dear  reader,  I  am  not,  as  you  have  probably 
inferred,  a  loser  by  the  general  upstir  described 
in  the  foregoing  chapter.  The  little  domestic  revolution, 
notwithstanding  the  sudden  snub  it  got  by  the  treachery 
of  somebody,  did  not,  after  all,  end  so  disastrously  as 
when  in  the  iron  cage  at  Easton  I  conceived  it  would. 
The  prospect  from  that  point  did  look  about  as  dark  as 
any  that  ever  cast  its  gloom  over  the  vision  of  the  anxious, 
out-looking  human  spirit.  "  All's  well  that  ends  well ! " 
My  affectionate  friends,  Henry  and  John  Harris,  are  still 
with  Mr.  Freeland.  Charles  Roberts  and  Henry  Bailey 
are  safe  at  their  homes.  I  have  not,  therefore,  anything 
to  regret  on  their  account.  Their  masters  have  merci- 
fully forgiven  them,  probably  on  the  ground  suggested  in 
the  spirited  little  speech  of  Mrs.  Freeland,  made  to  me 
just  before  leaving  for  the  jail.  My  friends  had  nothing 
to  regret,  either:  for  while  they  were  watched  more 
closely,  they  were  doubtless  treated  more  kindly  than 
before,  and  got  new  assurances  that  they  should  some  day 
be  legally  emancipated,  provided  their  behavior  from  that 
time  forward  should  make  them  deserving.     Not  a  blow 




was  struck  any  one  of  them.  As  for  Master  Freeland, 
good  soul,  he  did  not  believe  we  were  intending  to  run 
away  at  all.  Having  given — as  he  thought — no  occasion 
to  his  boys  to  leave  him,  he  could  not  think  it  probable 
that  they  had  entertained  a  design  so  grievous.  This, 
however,  was  not  the  view  taken  of  the  matter  by  "  Mas' 
Billy,"  as  we  used  to  call  the  soft-spoken  but  crafty  and 
resolute  Mr.  William  Hamilton.  He  had  no  doubt  that 
the  crime  had  been  meditated,  and  regarding  me  as  the 
instigator  of  it,  he  frankly  told  Master  Thomas  that  he 
must  remove  me  from  that  neighborhood  or  he  would 
shoot  me.  He  would  not  have  one  so  dangerous  as 
"  Frederick  "  tampering  with  his  slaves.  William  Hamil- 
ton was  not  a  man  whose  threat  might  be  safely  disre- 
garded. I  have  no  doubt  he  would  have  proved  as  good 
as  his  word,  had  the  warning  given  been  disregarded. 
He  was  furious  at  the  thought  of  such  a  piece  of  high- 
handed theft  as  we  were  about  to  perpetrate — the  stealing 
of  our  own  bodies  and  souls.  The  feasibility  of  the  plan, 
too,  could  the  first  steps  have  been  taken,  was  marvel- 
ously  plain.  Besides,  this  was  a  new  idea,  this  use  of 
the  Bay.  Slaves  escaping,  until  now,  had  taken  to  the 
woods ;  they  had  never  dreamed  of  profaning  and  abusing 
the  waters  of  the  noble  Chesapeake  by  making  them  the 
highway  from  slavery  to  freedom.  Here  w^as  a  broad 
road  leading  to  the  destruction  of  slavery,  which  had 
hitherto  been  looked  upon  as  a  wall  of  security  by  the 
slaveholders.  But  Master  Billy  could  not  get  Mr.  Free- 
land  to  see  matters  precisely  as  he  did,  nor  could  he  get 
Master  Thomas,  excited  as  he  was.  The  latter,  I  must 
say  it  to  his  credit,  showed  much  humane  feeling,  and 
atoned  for  much  that  had  been  harsh,  cruel,  and  unrea- 
sonable in  his  former  treatment  of  me  and  of  others. 
My  "  Cousin  Tom "  told  me  that  while  I  was  in  jail 
Master  Thomas  was  very  unhappy,  and  that  the  night 

THOMAS    AULD,    JUNIOR.  221 

before  his  going  up  to  release  me  he  had  walked  the  floor 
nearly  all  night,  evincing  great  distress  ;  that  very  tempt- 
ing offers  had  been  made  to  him  by  the  negro-traders, 
but  he  had  rejected  them  all,  saying  that  money  could  not 
tempt  him  to  sell  me  to  the  far  south.  I  can  easily  believe 
all  this,  for  he  seemed  quite  reluctant  to  send  me  away 
at  all.  He  told  me  that  he  only  consented  to  do  so  because 
of  the  very  strong  prejudice  against  me  in  the  neighbor- 
hood, and  that  he  feared  for  my  safety  if  I  remained 

Thus,  after  three  years  spent  in  the  country,  roughing 
it  in  the  field,  and  experiencing  all  sorts  of  hardships,  I 
was  again  permitted  to  return  to  Baltimore,  the  very  place 
of  all  others,  short  of  a  free  State,  where  I  most  desired 
to  live.  The  three  years  spent  in  the  country  had  made 
some  difference  in  me,  and  in  the  household  of  Master 
Hugh.  "  Little  Tommy  "  was  no  longer  little  Tommy ; 
and  I  was  not  the  slender  lad  who  had  left  the  Eastern 
Shore  just  three  years  before.  The  loving  relations 
between  Master  Tommy  and  myself  were  broken  up.  He 
was  no  longer  dependent  on  me  for  protection,  but  felt 
himself  a  man^  with  other  and  more  suitable  associates. 
In  childhood  he  had  considered  me  scarcely  inferior  to 
himself, — certainly  quite  as  good  as  any  other  boy  with 
whom  he  played ;  but  the  time  had  come  when  \n^  friend 
must  be  his  slave.  So  we  were  cold  to  each  other,  and 
parted.  It  was  a  sad  thing  to  me,  that  loving  each  other 
as  we  had  done,  we  must  now  take  different  roads.  To 
him  a  thousand  avenues  were  open.  Education  had  made 
him  acquainted  with  all  the  treasures  of  the  world,  and 
liberty  had  flung  open  the  gates  thereunto ;  but  I  who  had 
attended  him  seven  vears,  had  watched  over  him  with  the 
care  of  a  big  brother,  fighting  his  battles  in  the  street, 
and  shielding  him  from  harm  to  an  extent  which  induced 
his  mother  to  say,  ''Oh,  Tommy  is  always  safe  when  he 


is  with  Freddy '' — I  must  be  confined  to  a  single  condi- 
tion. He  had  grown  and  become  a  man:  I,  though  grown 
to  the  stature  of  manhood,  must  all  my  life  remain  a 
minor — a  mere  boy.  Thomas  Auld,  junior,  obtained  a 
situation  on  board  the  brig  Tweed,  and  went  to  sea.  I 
have  since  heard  of  his  death. 

There  were  few  persons  to  whom  I  was  more  sincerely 
attached  than  to  him. 

Very  soon  after  I  went  to  Baltimore  to  live,  Master 
Hugh  succeeded  in  getting  me  hired  to  Mr.  William 
Gardiner,  an  extensive  ship-builder  on  Fell's  Point.  I 
was  placed  there  to  learn  to  calk,  a  trade  of  which  I 
already  had  some  knowledge,  gained  while  in  Mr.  Hugh 
Auld's  ship-yard.  Gardiner's,  however,  proved  a  very 
unfavorable  place  for  the  accomplishment  of  Ihe  desired 
object.  Mr.  Gardiner  was  that  season  engaged  in  build- 
ing two  large  man-of-war  vessels,  professedly  for  the 
Mexican  government.  These  vessels  were  to  be  launched 
in  the  month  of  July  of  tliat  year,  and  in  failure  thereof 
Mr.  Gardiner  would  forfeit  a  very  considerable  sum  of 
money.  So,  when  I  entered  the  ship-yard,  all  was  hurry 
and  driving.  There  were  in  the  yard  about  one  hundred 
men ;  of  these,  seventy  or  eighty  were  regular  carpenters 
— privileged  men.  There  was  no  time  for  a  raw  hand  to 
learn  anything.  Every  man  had  to  do  that  which  he 
knew  how  to  do,  and  in  entering  the  yard  Mr.  Gardiner 
had  directed  me  to  do  whatever  the  carpenters  told  me  to 
do.  This  was  placing  me  at  the  beck  and  call  of  about 
seventy-five  men.  I  was  to  regard  all  these  as  my  mas- 
ters. Their  word  was  to  be  my  law.  My  situation  was 
a  trying  one.  I  was  called  a  dozen  ways  in  the  space  of 
a  single  minute.  I  needed  a  dozen  pairs  of  hands.  Three 
or  four  voices  would  strike  my  ear  at  the  same  moment. 
It  was  "  Fred,  come  help  me  to  cant  this  timber  here," — 
"Fred,  come  carry  this  timber  yonder," — "Fred,  bring 


that  roller  here,"  — "  Fred,  go  get  a  fresh  can  of  water," 
"Fred,  come  help  saw  off  the  end  of  this  timber," — ■ 
"Fred,  go  quick  and  get  the  crow-bar," — "Fred,  hold  on 
the  end  of  this  fall," — "Fred,  go  to  the  blacksmith's  shop 
and  get  a  new  punch," — "  Halloo,  Fred !  run  and  bring  me 
a  cold-chisel," — "I  say,  Fred,  bear  a  hand,  and  get  up  a 
fire  under  the  steam-box  as  quick  as  lightning," — "  Hullo, 
nigger!  come  turn  this  grindstone," — "Come,  come; 
move,  move !  and  howse  this  timber  forward," — "  I  say, 
darkey,  blast  your  eyes !  why  don't  you  heat  up  some 
pitch?" — "Halloo!  halloo!  halloo!  (three  voices  at  the 
same  time)" — "Come  here;  go  there;  hold  on  where 
you  are.  D — n  you,  if  you  move  I'll  knock  your  brains 
out !  "  Such,  my  dear  reader,  is  a  glance  at  the  school 
which  was  *mine  during  the  first  eight  months  of  my  stay 
at  Gardiner's  ship-yard.  At  the  end  of  eight  months 
Master  Hugh  refused  longer  to  allow  me  to  remain  with 
Gardiner.  The  circumstance  which  led  to  this  refusal 
was  the  committing  of  an  outrage  upon  me,  by  the  white 
apprentices  of  the  ship-yard.  The  fight  was  a  desperate 
one,  and  I  came  out  of  it  shockingly  mangled.  I  was 
cut  and  bruised  in  sundry  places,  and  my  left  eye  was 
nearly  knocked  out  of  its  socket.  The  facts  which  led  to 
this  brutal  outrage  upon  me  illustrate  a  phase  of  slavery 
which  was  destined  to  become  an  important  element  in 
the  overthrow  of  the  slave  system,  and  I  may  therefore 
state  them  with  some  minuteness.  That  phase  was  this 
— the  conflict  of  slavery  with  the  interests  of  white 
mechanics  and  laborers.  In  the  country  this  conflict  was 
not  so  apparent ;  but  in  cities,  such  as  Baltimore,  Rich- 
mond, New  Orleans,  Mobile,  etc.,  it  was  seen  pretty  clearly. 
The  slaveholders,  with  a  craftiness  peculiar  to  themselves, 
by  encouraging  the  enmity  of  the  poor  laboring  white 
man  against  the  blacks,  succeeded  in  making  the  said 
white  man  almost  as  much  a  slave  as  the  black  slave  him- 


isly  and  maliciously  of  "  the  niggers,"  saying  that  they 
would  take  the  "  country,"  that  they  "  ought  to  be  killed." 
Encouraged  by  workmen  who,  knowing  me  to  be  a  slave, 
made  no  issue  with  Mr.  Gardiner  about  my  being  there, 
these  young  men  did  their  utmost  to  make  it  impossible 
for  me  to  stay.  They  seldom  called  me  to  do  anything 
without  coupling  the  call  with  a  curse,  and  Edward  North, 
the  biggest  in  everything,  rascality  included,  ventured  to 
strike  me,  whereupon  I  picked  him  up  and  threw  him  into 
the  dock.  Whenever  any  of  them  struck  me  I  struck 
back  again,  regardless  of  consequences.  I  could  manage 
any  of  them  singly^,  and  so  long  as  I  could  keep  them 
from  combining  I  got  on  very  well.  In  the  conflict  which 
ended  my  stay  at  Mr.  Gardiner's  I  was  beset  by  four  of 
them  at  once — Ned  North,  Ned  Hayes,  Bill  Stewart,  and 
Tom  Humphreys.  Two  of  them  were  as  large  as  myself, 
and  they  came  near  killing  me,  in  broad  daylight.  One 
came  in  front,  armed  with  a  brick ;  there  was  one  at  each 
side  and  one  behind,  and  they  closed  up  all  around  me. 
I  was  struck  on  all  sides ;  and  while  I  was  attending  to 
those  in  front  I  received  a  blow  on  my  head  from  behind, 
dealt  with  a  heavy  hand-spike.  I  was  completely  stunned 
by  the  blow,  and  fell  heavily  on  the  ground  among  the 
timbers.  Taking  advantage  of  my  fall  they  rushed  upon 
me  and  began  to  pound  me  with  their  fists.  I  let  them 
lay  on  for  awhile  after  I  came  to  myself,  with  a  view  of 
gaining  strength.  They  did  me  little  damage  so  far;  but 
finally  getting  tired  of  that  sport  I  gave  a  sudden  surge, 
and  despite  their  weight  I  rose  to  my  hands  and  knees. 
Just  as  I  did  this  one  of  their  number  planted  a  blow 
with  his  boot  in  my  left  eye,  wdiich  for  a  time  seemed  to 
have  burst  my  eye-ball.  When  they  saw  my  eye  com- 
pletely closed,  my  face  covered  with  blood,  and  I  stagger- 
ing under  the  stunning  blows  they  had  given  me,  they 
left  me.     As  soon  as  I  gathered  strength  I  picked  up  the 

A    COWARDLY   ACT.  227 

hand-spike  and  madly  enough  attempted  to  pursue  them ; 
but  here  the  carpenters  interfered  and  compelled  me  to 
give  up  my  pursuit.  It  was  impossible  to  stand  against 
so  many. 

Dear  reader,  you  can  hardly  believe  the  statement,  but 
it  is  true,  and  therefore  I  write  it  down  ;  no  fewer  than 
fifty  white  men  stood  by  and  saw  this  brutal  and  shame- 
ful outrage  committed,  and  not  a  man  of  them  all  interposed 
a  single  word  of  mercy.  There  were  four  against  one, 
and  that  one's  face  was  beaten  and  battered  most  horribly, 
and  no  one  said,  ''that  is  enough;"  but  some  cried  out, 

"Kill   him !     kill  him  !  kill  the    d n  nigger  !   knock 

his  brains  out !  he  struck  a  white  person  !  ''^  I  mention 
this  inhuman  outcry  to  show  the  character  of  the  men 
and  the  spirit  of  the  times  at  Gardiner's  ship-yard  ;  and, 
indeed,  in  Baltimore  generally,  in  1836.  As  I  look  back 
to  this  period,  I  am  almost  amazed  that  I  was  not  mur- 
dered outright,  so  murderous  was  the  spirit  which  pre- 
vailed there.  On  two  other  occasions  while  there  I  came 
near  losing  my  life,  on  one  of  which  I  was  driving  bolts 
in  the  hold  through  the  keelson  with  Hays.  In  its  course 
the  bolt  bent.  Hays  cursed  me,  and  said  that  it  was  my 
blow  which  bent  the  bolt.  I  denied  this  and  charged  it 
upon  him.  In  a  fit  of  rage  he  seized  an  adze  and  darted 
toward  me.  I  met  him  with  a  maul  and  parried  his  blow, 
or  I  should  have  lost  my  life. 

After  the  united  attack  of  North,  Stewart,  Hayes,  and 
Humphreys,  finding  that  the  carpenters  were  as  bitter 
toward  me  as  the  apprentices,  and  that  the  latter  were 
probably  set  on  by  the  former,  I  found  my  only  chance 
for  life  was  in  flight.  I  succeeded  in  getting  away  with- 
out an  additional  blow.  To  strike  a  white  man  was  death 
by  lynch  law,  in  Gardiner's  ship-yard  ;  nor  was  there 
much  of  any  other  law  toward  the  colored  people  at  that 
time  in  any  other  part  of  Maryland. 

228  HIS   OLD,    KIND   MISTRESS. 

After  making  my  escape  from  the  ship-yard  I  went 
straight  home  and  related  my  story  to  Master  Hugh  ;  and 
to  his  credit  I  say  it,  that  his  conduct,  though  he  was 
not  a  religious  man,  was  every  way  more  humane  than 
that  of  his  brother  Thomas,  when  I  went  to  him  in  a 
somewhat  similar  plight,  from  the  hands  of  his  "  Brother 
Edward  Covey."  Master  Hugh  listened  attentively  to  my 
narration  of  the  circumstances  leading  to  the  ruffianly 
assault,  and  gave  many  evidences  of  his  strong  indigna- 
tion at  what  was  done.  He  was  a  rough  but  manly- 
hearted  fellow,  and  at  this  time  his  best  nature  showed 

The  heart  of  my  once  kind  mistress  Sophia  was  again 
melted  in  pity  towards  me.  My  puffed-out  eye  and  my 
scarred  and  blood-covered  face  moved  the  dear  lady  to 
tears.  She  kindly  drew  a  chair  by  me,  and  with  friendly 
and  consoling  words,  she  took  water  and  washed  the 
blood  from  my  face.  No  mother's  hand  could  have  been 
more  tender  than  hers.  She  bound  up  my  head  and 
covered  my  wounded  eye  with  a  lean  piece  of  fresh  beef. 
It  was  almost  compensation  for  all  I  suffered  that  it 
occasioned  the  manifestation  once  more  of  the  originally 
characteristic  kindness  of  my  mistress.  Her  affectionate 
heart  was  not  yet  dead,  though  much  hardened  by  time 
and  circumstances. 

As  for  Master  Hugh  he  was  furious,  and  gave  expres- 
sion to  his  feelings  in  the  forms  of  speech  usual  in  that 
locality.  He  poured  curses  on  the  whole  of  the  ship-yard 
company,  and  swore  that  he  would  have  satisfaction.  His 
indignation  was  really  strong  and  lK)althy ;  but  unfortu- 
nately it  resulted  from  the  thought  that  his  rights  of 
property,  in  my  person,  had  not  been  respected,  more 
than  from  any  sense  of  the  outrage  perpetrated  upon  me 
as  a  man.  I  had  reason  to  think  this  from  the  fact  that 
he  could,  himself,  beat  and  mangle  when  it  suited  him 
to  do  so. 


Bent  on  having  satisfaction,  as  he  said,  just  as  soon  as 
I  got  a  little  the  better  of  my  bruises  Master  Hugli  took 
me  to  Esquire  Watson's  office  on  Bond  street,  Fell's 
Point,  with  a  view  to  procuring  the  arrest  of  those  who 
had  assaulted  me.  He  related  the  outrage  to  the  magis- 
trate as  I  had  related  it  to  him,  and  seemed  to  expect 
that  a  warrant  would  at  once  be  issued  for  the  arrest 
of  the  lawless  ruffians.  Mr.  Watson  heard  all  he  had  to 
say,  then  coolly  inquired,  "  Mr.  Auld,  who  saw  this 
assault  of  which  you  speak  ?  "  "  It  was  done,  sir,  in  the 
presence  of  a  ship-yard  full  of  hands."  "  Sir,"  said  Mr. 
Watson,  "  I  am  sorry,  but  I  cannot  move  in  this  matter, 
except  upon  the  oath  of  white  witnesses."  "  But  here's 
the  boy  ;  look  at  his  head  and  face,"  said  the  excited 
Master  Hugh  ;  'Hhey  show  what  has  been  done."  But 
Watson  insisted  that  he  was  not  authorized  to  do  any- 
thing, unless  white  witnesses  of  the  transaction  would 
come  forward  and  testify  to  what  had  taken  place.  He 
could  issue  no  warrant  on  my  word,  against  white  per- 
sons, and  if  I  had  been  killed  in  the  presence  of  a  thou- 
sand blacks,  their  testimony  combined  would  have  been 
insufficient  to  condemn  a  single  murderer.  Master  Hugh 
was  compelled  to  say,  for  once,  that  this  state  of  things 
was  too  bad,  and  he  left  the  office  of  the  magistrate 

Of  course  it  was  impossible  to  get  any  white  man  to 
testify  against  my  assailants.  The  carpenters  saw  what 
was  done ;  but  the  actors  were  but  the  agents  of  their 
malice,  and  did  only  what  the  carpenters  sanctioned. 
They  had  cried  with  one  accord,  "  Kill  the  nigger  !  kill 
the  nigger ! "  Even  those  who  may  have  pitied  me,  if  any 
such  were  among  them,  lacked  the  moral  courage  to 
volunteer  their  evidence.  The  slightest  show  of  sym- 
pathy or  justice  toward  a  person  of  color  was  denounced 
as  abolitionism  ;  and  the  name  of  abolitionist  subjected 


its  hearer  to  frightful  liabihties.     "  D n  abolitionists," 

and  "  kill  the  niggers,"  were  the  watch-words  of  the 
foul-mouthed  rufhans  of  those  days.  Nothing  was  done, 
and  probably  there  would  not  have  been  had  I  been  killed 
in  the  affray.  The  laws  and  the  morals  of  the  Christian 
city  of  Baltimore  afforded  no  protection  to  the  sable 
denizens  of  that  city. 

Master  Hugh,  on  finding  he  could  get  no  redress  for 
the  cruel  wrong,  withdrew  me  from  the  employment  of 
Mr.  Gardiner  and  took  me  into  his  own  family,  Mrs. 
Auld  kindly  taking  care  of  me  and  dressing  my  wounds 
until  they  were  healed  and  I  was  ready  to  go  to  work 

While  I  was  on  the  Eastern  Shore,  Master  Hugh  had 
met  with  reverses  which  overthrew  his  business  ;  and  he 
had  given  up  ship-building  in  his  own  yard,  on  the  City 
Block,  and  was  now  acting  as  foreman  of  Mr.  Walter 
Price.  The  best  he  could  do  for  me  was  to  take  me  into 
Mr.  Price's  yard,  and  afford  me  the  facilities  there  for 
completing  the  trade  which  I  began  to  learn  at  Gardiner's. 
Here  I  rapidly  became  expert  in  the  use  of  calkers'  tools, 
and  in  the  course  of  a  single  year,  I  was  able  to  com- 
mand the  highest  wages  paid  to  journeymen  calkers  in 

The  reader  will  observe  that  I  was  now  of  some  pecun- 
iary value  to  my  master.  During  the  busy  season  I  was 
bringing  six  and  seven  dollars  per  week.  I  have  some- 
times brought  him  as  much  as  nine  dollars  a  week,  for 
wages  were  a  dollar  and  a  half  per  day. 

After  learning  to  calk,  I  sought  my  own  employment, 
made  my  own  contracts,  and  collected  my  own  earnings 
— giving  Master  Hugh  no  trouble  in  any  part  of  the  trans- 
actions to  which  I  was  a  party. 

Here,  then,  were  better  days  for  the  Eastern  Shore 
dave.     I   was   free   from   the   vexatious  assaults  of  the 

WHY   SHOULD   HE   BE   A   SLAVE.  231 

apprentices  at  Gardiner's,  and  free  from  the  perils  of 
plantation  life,  and  once  more  in  favorable  condition  to 
increase  my  little  stock  of  education,  which  had  been  at 
a  dead  stand  since  my  removal  from  Baltimore.  I  had 
on  the  Eastern  Shore  been  only  a  teacher,  when  in  com- 
pany with  other  slaves,  but  now  there  were  colored  per- 
sons here  who  could  instruct  me.  Many  of  the  young 
calkers  could  read,  write,  and  cipher.  Some  of  them 
had  high  notions  about  mental  improvement,  and  the 
free  ones  on  Fell's  Point  organized  what  they  called  the 
"  East  Baltimore  Mental  Improvement  Society."  To  this 
society,  notwithstanding  it  was  intended  that  only  free 
persons  should  attach  themselves,  I  was  admitted,  and 
was  several  times  assigned  a  prominent  part  in  its 
debates.  I  owe  much  to  the  society  of  these  young  men. 
The  reader  already  knows  enough  of  the  ill  effects  of 
good  treatment  on  a  slave  to  anticipate  what  was  how 
the  case  in  my  improved  condition.  It  was  not  long 
before  I  began  to  show  signs  of  disquiet  with  slavery,  and 
to  look  around  for  means  to  get  out  of  it  by  the  shortest 
route.  I  was  living  among  freemen^  and  was  in  all 
respects  equal  to  them  by  nature  and  attainments.  Why 
should  I  he  a  slave  ?  There  was  no  reason  why  I  should 
be  the  thrall  of  any  man.  Besides,  I  was  now  getting, 
as  I  have  said,  a  dollar  and  fifty  cents  per  day.  I  con- 
tracted for  it,  worked  for  it,  collected  it ;  it  was  paid  to  me, 
and  it  was  rightfully  my  own  ;  and  yet  upon  every  returning 
Saturday  night,  this  money — my  own  hard  earnings,  every 
cent  of  it — was  demanded  of  me  and  taken  from  me  by 
Master  Hugh.  He  did  not  earn  it ;  he  had  no  hand  in 
earning  it;  why,  then  should  he.  have  it?  I  owed  him 
nothing.  He  had  given  me  no  schooling,  and  I  had 
received  from  him  only  my  food  and  raiment ;  and  for 
these  my  services  were  supposed  to  pay  from  the  first. 
The  right  to  take  my  earnings  was  the  right  of  the  rob- 


bcr.  He  had  the  power  to  compel  me  to  give  him  the 
fruits  of  my  labor,  and  this  power  was  his  only  right  in 
the  case,  I  became  more  and  more  dissatisfied  with  this 
state  of  things,  and  in  so  becoming  I  only  gave  proof  of 
the  same  human  nature  which  every  reader  of  this  chap- 
ter in  my  life — slaveholder,  or  non-slaveholder — is  con- 
scious of  possessing. 

To  make  a  contented  slave,  you  must  make  a  thought- 
less one.  It  is  necessary  to  darken  his  moral  and  mental 
vision,  and  as  far  as  possible,  to  annihilate  his  power  of 
reason.  He  must  be  able  to  detect  no  inconsistencies  in 
slavery.  The  man  who  takes  his  earnings  must  be  able 
to  convince  him  that  he  has  a  perfect  right  to  do  so.  It 
must  not  depend  upon  mere  force :  the  slave  must  know 
no  higher  law  than  his  master's  will.  The  whole  relation- 
ship must  not  only  demonstrate  to  his  mind  its  necessity, 
but  its  absolute  rightfulness.  If  there  be  one  crevice 
/through  which  a  single  drop  can  fall,  it  will  certainly 
rust  off  the  slave's  chain. 



Closing  incidents  in  my  "Life  as  a  Slave" — Discontent — Suspicions 
— Master's  generosity — Difficulties  in  the  way  of  escape — Plan  to 
obtain  money — Allowed  to  hire  my  time — A  gleam  of  hope — Attend 
camp-meeting — Anger  of  Master  Hugh — The  result — Plans  of  Es- 
cape— Day  for  departure  fixed — Harrassing  doubts  and  fears — Pain- 
ful thoughts  of  separation  from  friends. 

MY  condition  during  the  year  of  my  escape  (1838) 
was  comparatively  a  free  and  easy  one,  so  far,  at 
least,  as  the  wants  of  the  physical  man  were  concerned  ; 
but  the  reader  will  bear  in  mind  that  my  troubles,  from 
the  beginning  had  been  less  physical  than  mental,  and  he 
will  thus  be  prepared  to  find  that  slave  life  was  adding 
nothing  to  its  charms  for  me  as  I  grew  older,  and  be- 
came more  and  more  acquainted  with  it.  The  practice 
from  week  to  week  of  openly  robbing  me  of  all  my  earn- 
ings, kept  the  nature  and  character  of  slavery  constantly 
before  me.  I  could  be  robbed  by  indirection,  but  this 
was  too  open  and  barefaced  to  be  endured.  I  could  see 
no  reason  why  I  should,  at  the  end  of  each  week,  pour 
the  reward  of  my  honest  toil  into  the  purse  of  my  master. 
My  obligation  to  do  this  vexed  me,  and  the  manner  in 
which  Master  Hugh  received  my  wages  vexed  me  yet 
more.  Carefully  counting  the  money,  and  rolling  it  out 
dollar  by  dollar,  he  would  look  me  in  the  face  as  if  he 
would  search  my  heart  as  well  as  my  pocket,  and  reproach- 
fully ask  me,  "  Is  that  all  ?  " — implying  that  I  had  perhaps 
kept  back  part  of  my  wages ;  or,  if  not  so,  the  demand 
was  made  possibly  to  make  me  feel  that  after  all,  I  was 
an  "  unprofitable  servant."     Draininglme  of  the  last  cent 



of  my  hard  earnings,  lie  would,  however,  occasionally, 
when  I  brought  home  an  extra  large  sum,  dole  out  to  me 
a  sixpence  or  shilling,  with  a  view,  perhaps,  of  kindling 
up  my  gratitude.  But  it  had  the  opposite  effect;  it  was 
an  admission  of  my  right  to  the  whole  sum.  The  fact 
that  he  gave  me  any  part  of  my  wages,  was  proof  that  he 
suspected  I  had  a  right  to  the  whole  of  them  ;  and  I  always 
felt  uncomfortable  after  having  received  anything  in  this 
way,  lest  his  giving  me  a  few  cents  might  possibly  ease 
his  conscience,  and  make  him  feel  himself  to  be  a  pretty 
honorable  robber  after  all. 

Held  to  a  strict  account,  and  kept  under  a  close  watch, 
— the  old  suspicion  of  my  running  away  not  having  been 
entirely  removed, — to  accomplish  my  escape  seemed  a 
very  difficult  thing.  The  railroad  from  Baltimore  to 
Philadelphia  was  under  regulations  so  stringent  that  even 
free  colored  travelers  were  almost  excluded.  They  must 
have  free  papers ;  they  must  be  measured  and  carefully 
examined  before  they  could  enter  the  cars,  and  could 
go  only  in  the  day  time,  even  when  so  examined.  The 
steamboats  were  under  regulations  equally  stringent. 
And  still  more,  and  worse  than  all,  all  the  great  turn- 
pikes leading  northward  were  beset  with  kidnappers ;  a 
class  of  men  who  watched  the  newspapers  for  advertise- 
ments for  runaway  slaves,  thus  making  their  living  by  the 
accursed  reward  of  slave-hunting. 

My  discontent  grew  upon  me,  and  I  was  on  a  con- 
stant look-out  for  means  to  get  away.  With  money  I  could 
easily  have  managed  the  matter,  and  from  this  considera- 
tion I  hit  upon  the  plan  of  soliciting  the  privilege  of 
hiring  my  time.  It  was  quite  common  in  Baltimore  to 
allow  slaves  this  privilege,  and  was  the  practice  also  in 
New  Orleans.  A  slave  who  was  considered  trustworthy 
could,  by  paying  his  master  a  definite  sum  regularly,  at 
the  end  of  each  week,  dispose  of  his  time  as  he  liked.     It 


SO  happened  that  I  was  not  in  very  good  odor,  and  I  was 
far  from  behig  a  trustworthy  slave.  Nevertheless,  I 
watched  my  opportunity  when  Master  Thomas  came  to 
Baltnnore  (for  1  was  still  his  property,  Hugh  only  acting 
as  his  agent)  in  the  spring  of  1838,  to  purchase  his  spring 
supply  of  goods,  and  applied  to  liim  directly  for  the  much- 
coveted  privilege  of  hiring  my  time.  This  request  Master 
Thomas  unhesitatingly  refused  to  grant ;  and  he  charged 
me,  with  some  sternness,  with  inventing  this  stratagem 
to  make  my  escape.  He  told  me  I  could  go  nowhere  but 
he  would  catch  me ;  and,  in  the  event  of  my  running 
away,  I  might  be  assured  he  should  spare  no  pains  in  his 
efforts  to  recapture  me.  He  recounted,  with  a  good  deal 
of  eloquence,  the  many  kind  offices  he  had  done  me,  and 
exhorted  me  to  be  contented  and  obedient.  "  Lay  out  no 
plans  for  the  future,"  said  he  ;  "  if  you  behave  yourself 
properly,  I  will  take  care  of  you."  Now,  kind  and  con- 
siderate as  this  offer  was,  it  failed  to  soothe  me  into 
repose.  In  spite  of  all  Master  Thomas  had  said,  and  in 
spite  of  my  own  efforts  to  the  contrary,  the  injustice  and 
wickedness  of  slavery  were  always  uppermost  in  my 
thoughts,  strengthening  my  purpose  to  make  my  escape 
at  the  earliest  moment  possible. 

About  two  months  after  applying  to  Master  Thomas 
for  the  privilege  of  hiring  my  time,  I  applied  to  Master 
Hugh  for  the  same  liberty,  supposing  him  to  be  unac- 
quainted with  the  fact  that  I  had  made  a  similar  applica- 
tion to  Master  Thomas,  and  had  been  refused.  My  bold- 
ness in  making  this  request  fairly  astounded  him  at  first. 
He  gazed  at  me  in  amazement.  But  I  had  many  good 
reasons  for  pressing  the  matter,  and,  after  listening  to 
them  awhile,  he  did  not  absolutely  refuse,  but  told 
me  he  would  think  of  it.  There  was  hope  for  me  in  this. 
Once  master  of  my  own  time,  I  felt  sure  that  I  could 
make  over  and  above  my  obligation  to  him,  a  dollar  or 


two  every  week.  Some  slaves  had  made  enough  in  this 
way  to  purcliase  their  freedom.  It  was  a  sharp  spur  to 
their  industry  ;  and  some  of  tlie  most  enterprising  colored 
men  in  Baltimore  hired  themselves  in  that  way. 

After  mature  reflection,  as  I  suppose  it  was,  Master 
Hugh  granted  me  the  privilege  in  question,  on  the  follow- 
ing terms :  I  was  to  be  allowed  all  my  time ;  to  make  all 
bargains  for  work,  and  to  collect  my  own  wages  ;  and  in 
return  for  this  liberty,  I  was  required  or  obliged  to  pay 
him  three  dollars  at  the  end  of  each  week,  and  to  board 
and  clothe  myself,  and  buy  my  own  calking  tools.  A 
failure  in  any  of  these  particulars  would  put  an  end  to 
the  privilege.  This  was  a  hard  bargain.  The  wear  and 
tear  of  clothing,  the  losing  and  breaking  of  tools,  and  the 
expense  of  board,  made  it  necessary  for  me  to  earn  at 
least  six  dollars  per  week  to  keep  even  with  the  world. 
All  who  are  acquainted  with  calking  know  how  uncertain 
and  irregular  that  employment  is.  It  can  be  done  to  advan- 
tage only  in  dry  weather,  for  it  is  useless  to  put  wet  oak- 
um into  a  ship's  seam.  Rain  or  shine,  however,  work  or 
no  work,  at  the  end  of  each  week  the  money  must  be 

Master  Hugh  seemed  much  pleased  with  this  arrange- 
ment for  a  time ;  and  well  he  might  be,  for  it  was 
decidedly  in  his  favor.  It  relieved  him  of  all  anxiety  con- 
cerning me.  His  money  w^as  sure.  He  had  armed  my 
love  of  liberty  with  a  lash  and  a  driver  far  more  efficient 
than  any  I  had  before  known ;  and  while  he  derived  all 
the  benefits  of  slaveholding  by  the  arrangement,  without 
its  evils,  I  endured  all  the  evils  of  being  a  slave,  and  yet 
suffered  all  the  care  and  anxiety  of  a  responsible  freeman. 
"  Nevertheless,"  thought  I,  "  it  is  a  valuable  privilege — 
another  step  in  my  career  toward  freedom."  It  was 
something  even  to  be  permitted  to  stagger  under  the 
disadvantages  of  liberty,  and  I  was  determined  to  hold  on 

A    FATAL   MISTAKE.  237 

to  the  newly  gained  footing  by  all  proper  industry.  I 
was  ready  to  work  by  night  as  by  day,  and  being  in  the 
possession  of  excellent  health,  I  was  not  only  able  to 
meet  my  current  expenses,  but  also  to  lay  by  a  small  sum 
at  the  end  of  each  week.  All  went  on  thus  from  the 
month  of  May  till  August ;  then,  for  reasons  which  will 
become  apparent  as  I  proceed,  my  much-valued  liberty 
was  wrested  from  me. 

During  the  week  previous  to  this  calamitous  event,  I 
had  made  arrangements  with  a  few  young  friends  to 
accompany  them  on  Saturday  night  to  a  camp-meeeting, 
to  be  held  about  twelve  miles  from  Baltimore.  On  the 
evening  of  our  intended  start  for  the  camp-ground,  some- 
thing occurred  in  the  ship-yard  where  I  was  at  work 
which  detained  me  unusually  late,  and  compelled  me 
either  to  disappoint  my  friends,  or  to  neglect  carrying  my 
weekly  dues  to  Master  Hugh.  Knowing  that  I  had  the 
money  and  could  hand  it  to  him  on  another  day,  I  decided 
to  go  to  camp-meeting,  and  pay  him  the  three  dollars  for 
the  past  week  on  my  return.  Once  on  the  camp-ground, 
I  was  induced  to  remain  one  day  longer  than  I  had  in- 
tended when  I  left  home.  But  as  soon  as  I  returned  I 
went  directly  to  his  home  on  Fell  street  to  hand  him  his 
(my)  money.  Unhappily  the  fatal  mistake  had  been 
made.  I  found  him  exceedingly  angry.  He  exhibited 
all  the  signs  of  apprehension  and  wrath  which  a  slave- 
holder might  be  surmised  to  exhibit  on  the  supposed 
escape  of  a  favorite  slave.  "  You  rascal !  I  have  a  great 
mind  to  give  you  a  sound  whipping.  How  dare  you  go 
out  of  the  city  without  first  asking  and  obtaining  my  per- 
mission?" "Sir,"  I  said,  "I  hired  my  time  and  paid 
you  the  price  you  asked  for  it.  I  did  not  know  that  it 
was  any  part  of  the  bargain  that  I  should  ask  you  when 
or  where  I  should  go."  "  You  did  not  know,  you  rascal ! 
You  are   bound  to  show  yourself  here  every   Saturday 


night."  After  reflecting  a  few  moments,  he  became 
somewhat  cooled  down ;  but,  evidently  greatly  troubled, 
he  said :  "  Now,  you  scoundrel,  you  have  done  for  your- 
self ;  you  shall  hire  your  time  no  longer.  The  next  thing 
I  shall  hear  of  will  be  your  running  away.  Bring  home 
your  tools  at  once.  I'll  teach  you  how  to  go  off  in  this 

Thus  ended  my  partial  freedom.  I  could  hire  my  time 
no  longer ;  and  I  obeyed  my  master's  orders  at  once. 
The  little  taste  of  liberty  which  I  had  had — although  as 
it  will  be  seen,  that  taste  was  far  from  being  unalloyed, — 
by  no  means  enhanced  my  contentment  with  slavery. 
Punished  by  Master  Hugh,  it  was  now  my  turn  to  punish 
him.  "Since,"  thought  I,  "  you  ivill  make  a  slave  of  me, 
I  will  await  your  order  in  all  things."  So,  instead  of 
going  to  look  for  work  on  Monday  morning,  as  I  had  for- 
merly done,  I  remained  at  home  during  the  entire  week, 
without  the  performance  of  a  single  stroke  of  work. 
Saturday  night  came,  and  he  called  upon  me  as  usual  for 
my  wages.  I,  of  course,  told  him  I  had  done  no  work, 
and  had  no  wages.  Here  we  were  at  the  point  of  coming 
to  blows.  His  wrath  had  been  accumulating  during  the 
whole  week ;  for  he  evidently  saw  that  I  was  making  no 
effort  to  get  work,  but  was  most  aggravatingly  awaiting 
his  orders  in  all  things.  As  I  look  back  to  this  behavior 
of  mine,  I  scarcely  know  what  possessed  me,  thus  to 
trifle  with  one  who  had  such  unlimited  power  to  bless  or 
blast  me.  Master  Hugh  raved,  and  swore  he  would  "  get 
hold  of  me,"  but  wisely  for  him^  and  happily  for  me,  his 
wrath  employed  only  those  harmless,  impalpable  missiles 
which  roll  from  a  limber  tongue.  In  my  desperation  I 
had  fully  made  up  my  mind  to  measure  strength  with 
him  in  case  he  should  attempt  to  execute  his  threat.  I 
am  glad  there  was  no  occasion  for  this,  for  resistance  to 
him  could  not  have  ended  so  happily  for  me  as  it  did  in 

Found  in  the  Woods  by  Saxdy 


the  case  of  Covey.  Master  Hugh  was  not  a  man  to  be 
safely  resisted  by  a  slave ;  and  I  freely  own  that  in  my 
conduct  toward  him,  in  this  instance,  there  was  more 
folly  than  wisdom.  He  closed  his  reproofs  by  telling  me 
that  hereafter  I  need  give  myself  no  uneasiness  about 
getting  work ;  he  "  would  himself  see  to  getting  work  for 
me,  and  enough  of  it  at  that."  This  threat,  I  confess, 
had  some  terror  in  it,  and  on  thinking  the  matter  over 
during  the  Sunday,  I  resolved  not  only  to  save  him  the 
trouble  of  getting  me  work,  but  that  on  the  third  day  of 
September  I  would  attempt  to  make  my  escape.  His  re- 
fusal to  allow  me  to  hire  my  time  therefore  hastened  the 
period  of  my  flight.  I  had  three  weeks  in  which  to  pre- 
pare for  my  journey. 

Once  resolved,  I  felt  a  cei*tain  degree  of  repose,  and  on 
Monday  morning,  instead  of  waiting  for  Master  Hugh  to 
seek  employment  for  me,  I  was  up  by  break  of  day,  and 
off  to  the  ship-yard  of  Mr.  Butler,  on  the  City  Block,  near 
the  draw-bridge.  I  was  a  favorite  with  Mr.  Butler,  and, 
young  as  I  was,  I  had  served  as  his  foreman,  on  the  float- 
stage,  at  calking.  Of  course  I  easily  obtained  work,  and 
at  the  end  of  the  week,  which,  by  the  way,  was  exceed- 
ingly fine,  I  brought  Master  Hugh  nine  dollars.  The 
effect  of  this  mark  of  returning  good  sense  on  my  part 
was  excellent.  He  was  very  much  pleased  ;  he  took  the 
money,  commended  me,  and  told  me  I  might  have  done 
the  same  thing  the  week  before.  It  is  a  blessed  thing 
that  the  tyrant  may  not  always  know  the  thoughts  and 
purposes  of  his  victim.  Master  Hugh  little  knew  my 
plans.  The  going  to  camp-meeting  without  asking  his 
permission,  the  insolent  answers  to  his  reproaches,  the 
sulky  deportment  of  the  week  after  being  deprived  of  the 
privilege  of  hiring  my  time,  had  awakened  the  suspicion 
that  I  might  be  cherishing  disloyal  purposes.  My  object, 
therefore,  in  working  steadily  was  to  remove  suspicion  ; 


and  in  this  I  succeeded  admirably.  He  probably  thought 
I  was  never  better  satisfied  with  my  condition  than  at 
the  very  time  I  was  planning  my  escape.  The  second 
week  passed,  and  I  again  carried  him  my  full  week's 
wages — nine  dollars  ;  and  so  well  pleased  was  he  that  he 
gave  me  twenty-five  cents  !  and  bade  me  "  make  good  use 
of  it."  I  told  him  I  would  do  so,  for  one  of  the  uses  to 
which  I  intended  to  put  it  was  to  pay  my  fare  on  the 
''  underground  railroad." 

Things  without  went  on  as  usual ;  but  I  was  passing 
through  the  same  internal  excitement  and  anxiety  which 
I  had  experienced  two  years  and  a  half  before.  The  fail- 
ure in  that  instance  was  not  calculated  to  increase  my 
confidence  in  the  success  of  this,  my  second  attempt ; 
and  I  knew  that  a  second  failure  could  not  leave  me 
where  my  first  did.  I  must  either  get  to  the  far  North 
or  he  sent  to  the  far  South.  Besides  the  exercise  of  mind 
from  this  state  of  facts,  I  had  the  painful  sensation  of 
being  about  to  separate  from  a  circle  of  honest  and  warm- 
hearted friends.  The  thought  of  such  a  separation,  where 
the  hope  of  ever  meeting  again  was  excluded,  and  where 
there  could  be  no  correspondence,  was  very  painful.  It 
is  my  opinion  that  thousands  more  would  have  escaped 
from  slavery  but  for  the  strong  affection  which  bound 
them  to  their  families,  relatives,  and  friends.  The  daugh- 
ter was  hindered  by  the  love  she  bore  her  mother,  and  the 
father  by  the  love  he  bore  his  wife  and  children,  and  so 
on  to  the  end  of  the  chapter.  I  had  no  relations  in  Balti- 
more, and  I  saw  no  probability  of  ever  living  in  the 
neighborhood  of  sisters  and  brothers  ;  but  the  thought  of 
leaving  my  friends  was  the  strongest  obstacle  to  my  run- 
ning away.  The  last  two  days  of  the  week,  Friday  and 
Saturday,  were  spent  mostly  in  collecting  my  things 
together  for  my  journey.  Having  worked  four  days  that 
week  for  my  master,  I  handed  him  six  dollars  on  Satur- 

GOOD   BYE,   MASTER.  241 

day  night.  I  seldom  spent  my  Sundays  at  home,  and  for 
fear  that  something  might  be  discovered  in  my  conduct, 
I  kept  up  my  custom  and  absented  myself  all  day.  On 
Monday,  the  third  day  of  September,  1838,  in  accordance 
with  my  resolution,  I  bade  farewell  to  the  city  of  Balti- 
more, and  to  that  slavery  which  had  been  my  abhorrence 
from  childhood. 



Reasons  for  not  having  revealed  the  manner  of  escape — Nothing  of 
romance  in  the  method — Danger — Free  papers — Unjust  tax — Pro- 
tection papers — "Free  trade  and  Sailors' rights" — American  eagle 
— Railroad  train — Unobserving  conductor — Capt.  McGowan — Hon- 
est German — Fears — Safe  arrival  in  Philadelphia — Ditto  in  New 

IN  the  first  narrative  of  my  experience  in  slavery,  writ- 
ten nearly  forty  years  ago,  and  in  various  writings 
since,  I  have  given  the  public  what  I  considered  very 
good  reasons  for  withholding  the  manner  of  my  escape. 
In  substance  these  reasons  were,  first,  that  such  publi- 
cation at  any  time  during  the  existence  of  slavery  might 
be  used  by  the  master  against  the  slave,  and  prevent  the 
future  escape  of  any  who  might  adopt  the  same  means 
that  I  did.  The  second  reason  was,  if  possible,  still  more 
binding  to  silence — for  publication  of  details  would  cer- 
tainly have  put  in  peril  the  persons  and  property  of  those 
who  assisted.  Murder  itself  was  not  more  sternly  and 
certainly  punished  in  the  State  of  Maryland  than  that  of 
aiding  and  abetting  the  escape  of  a  slave.  Many  colored 
men,  for  no  other  crime  than  that  of  giving  aid  to  a  fugi- 
tive slave,  have,  like  Charles  T.  Torrey,  perished  in  prison. 
The  abolition  of  slavery  in  my  native  State  and  through- 
out the  country,  and  the  lapse  of  time,  render  the  caution 
hitherto  observed  no  longer  necessary.  But,  even  since 
the  abolition  of  slavery,  I  have  sometimes  thought  it  well 


HOW   HE   ESCAPED.  245 

enough  to  baffle  curiosity  by  saying  that  while  slavery 
existed  there  were  good  reasons  for  not  telling  the  man- 
ner of  my  escape,  and  since  slavery  had  ceased  to  exist 
there  was  no  reason  for  telling  it.  I  shall  now,  however, 
cease  to  avail  myself  of  this  formula,  and,  as  far  as  I  can, 
endeavor  to  satisfy  this  very  natural  curiosity.  I  should 
perhaps  have  yielded  to  that  feeling  sooner,  had  there 
been  anything  very  heroic  or  thrilling  in  the  incidents 
connected  with  my  escape,  for  I  am  sorry  to  say  I  have 
nothing  of  that  sort  to  tell ;  and  yet  the  courage  that 
could  risk  betrayal  and  the  bravery  which  was  ready  to 
encounter  death  if  need  be,  in  pursuit  of  freedom,  were 
essential  features  in  the  undertaking.  My  success  was 
due  to  address  rather  than  courage  ;  to  good  luck  rather 
than  bravery.  My  means  of  escape  were  provided  for 
me  by  the  very  men  who  were  making  laws  to  hold  and 
bind  me  more  securely  in  slavery.  It  was  the  custom  in 
the  State  of  Maryland  to  require  of  the  free  colored  peo- 
ple to  have  what  were  called  free  papers.  This  instru- 
ment they  were  required  to  renew  very  often,  and  by 
charging  a  fee  for  this  writing,  considerable  sums  from 
time  to  time  were  collected  by  the  State.  In  these  papers 
the  name,  age,  color,  height,  and  form  of  the  free  man 
were  described,  together  with  any  scars  or  other  marks 
upon  his  person,  which  could  assist  in  his  identification. 
This  device  of  slaveholding  ingenuity,  like  other  devices 
of  wickedness,  in  some  measure  defeated  itself — since 
more  than  one  man  could  be  found  to  answer  the  same 
general  description.  Hence  many  slaves  could  escape  by 
personating  the  owner  of  one  set  of  papers ;  and  this  was 
often  done  as  follows :  A  slave  nearly  or  sufficiently 
answering  the  description  set  forth  in  the  papers,  would 
borrow  or  hire  them  till  he  could  by  their  means  escape 
to  a  free  state,  and  then,  by  mail  or  otherwise,  return 
them  to  the  owner.     The  operation  was  a  hazardous  one 


for  the  lender  as  well  as  the  borrower.  A  failure  on  the 
part  of  the  fugitive  to  send  back  the  papers  would  im- 
peril his  benefactor,  and  the  discovery  of  the  papers  in 
possession  of  the  wrong  man  would  imperil  both  the  fugi- 
tive and  his  friend.  It  was  therefore  an  act  of  supreme 
trust  on  the  part  of  a  freeman  of  color  thus  to  put  in 
jeopardy  his  own  liberty  that  another  might  be  free.  It  was, 
however,  not  unfrequently  bravely  done,  and  was  seldom 
discovered.  I  was  not  so  fortunate  as  to  sufficiently 
resemble  any  of  my  free  acquaintances  as  to  answer  the 
description  of  their  papers.  But  I  had  one  friend — a 
sailor — who  owned  a  sailor's  protection,  which  answered 
somewhat  the  purpose  of  free  papers — describing  his  per- 
son, and  certifying  to  the  fact  that  he  was  a  free  Ameri- 
can sailor.  The  instrument  had  at  its  head  the  American 
eagle,  which  gave  it  the  appearance  at  once  of  an  author- 
ized document.  This  protection  did  not,  when  in  my 
hands,  describe  its  bearer  very  accurately.  Indeed,  it 
called  for  a  man  much  darker  than  myself,  and  close 
examination  of  it  would  have  caused  my  arrest  at  the 
start.  In  order  to  avoid  this  fatal  scrutiny  on  the  part 
of  the  railroad  official,  I  had  arranged  with  Isaac  Rolls, 
a  hackman,  to  bring  my  baggage  to  the  train  just  on  the 
moment  of  starting,  and  jumped  upon  the  car  myself 
when  the  train  was  already  in  motion.  Had  I  gone  into 
the  station  and  offered  to  purchase  a  ticket,  I  should 
have  been  instantly  and  carefully  examined,  and  undoubt- 
edly arrested.  In  choosing  this  plan  upon  which  to  act, 
I  considered  the  jostle  of  the  train,  and  the  natural  haste 
of  the  conductor,  in  a  train  crowded  with  passengers, 
and  relied  upon  my  skill  and  address  in  playing  the 
sailor  as  described  in  my  protection,  to  do  the  rest.  One 
element  in  my  favor  was  the  kind  feeling  which  prevailed 
in  Baltimore,  and  other  seaports  at  the  time,  towards 
"  those  who  go  down  to  the  sea  in  ships."    "  Free  trade 


and  sailors'  rights"  expressed  the  sentiment  of  the  coun- 
try just  then.  In  my  clothing  I  was  rigged  out  in  sailor 
style.  I  had  on  a  red  shirt  and  a  tarpaulin  hat  and  black 
cravat,  tied  in  sailor  fashion,  carelessly  and  loosely  about 
my  neck.  My  knowledge  of  ships  and  sailor's  talk  came 
much  to  my  assistance,  for  I  knew  a  ship  from  stem  to 
stern,  and  from  keelson  to  cross-trees,  and  could  talk 
sailor  like  an  "old  salt."  On  sped  the  train,  and  I  was 
well  on  the  way  to  Havre  de  Grace  before  the  conductor 
came  into  the  negro  car  to  collect  tickets  and  examine 
the  papers  of  his  black  passengers.  This  was  a  critical 
moment  in  the  drama.  My  whole  future  depended  upon 
the  decision  of  this  conductor.  Agitated  I  was  while  this 
ceremony  was  proceeding,  but  still  externally,  at  least,  I 
was  apparently  calm  and  self-possessed.  He  went  on 
with  his  duty — examining  several  colored  passengers 
before  reaching  me.  He  was  somewhat  harsh  in  tone, 
and  peremptory  in  manner  until  he  reached  me,  when, 
strangely  enough,  and  to  my  surprise  and  relief,  his  whole 
manner  changed.  Seeing  that  I  did  not  readily  produce 
my  free  papers,  as  the  other  colored  persons  in  the  car 
had  done,  he  said  to  me  in  a  friendly  contrast  with  that 
observed  towards  the  others  :  "  I  suppose  you  have  your 
free  papers  ? "  To  which  I  answered :  "  No,  sir ;  I  never 
carry  my  free  papers  to  sea  with  me."  "  But  you  have 
something  to  show  that  you  are  a  free  man,  have  you 
not?"  "Yes,  sir,"  I  answered ;  "I  have  a  paper  with 
the  American  eagle  on  it,  that  will  carry  me  round  the 
world."  With  this  I  drew  from  my  deep  sailor's  pocket 
my  seaman's  protection,  as  before  described.  The  merest 
glance  at  the  paper  satisfied  him,  and  he  took  my  fare 
and  went  on  about  his  business.  This  moment  of  time 
was  one  of  the  most  anxious  I  ever  experienced.  Had 
the  conductor  looked  closely  at  the  paper,  he  could  not 
have  failed  to  discover  that  it  called  for  a  very  different 


looking  person  from  myself,  and  in  that  case  it  would 
have  been  his  duty  to  arrest  me  on  the  instant,  and  send 
me  back  to  Baltimore  from  the  first  station.  When  he 
left  me  with  the  assurance  that  I  was  all  right,  though 
much  relieved,  I  realized  that  I  was  still  in  great  danger: 
I  was  still  in  Maryland,  and  subject  to  arrest  at  any 
moment.  I  saw  on  the  train  several  persons  who  would 
have  known  me  in  any  other  clothes,  and  I  feared  they 
might  recognize  me,  even  in  my  sailor  "  rig,"  and  report 
me  to  the  conductor,  who  would  then  subject  me  to  a 
closer  examination,  which  I  knew  well  would  be  fatal 
to  me. 

Though  I  was  not  a  murderer  fleeing  from  justice,  I 
felt,  perhaps,  quite  as  miserable  as  such  a  criminal.  The 
train  was  moving  at  a  very  high  rate  of  speed  for  that  time 
of  railroad  travel,  but  to  my  anxious  mind,  it  was  moving 
far  too  slowly.  Minutes  were  hours,  and  hours  were  days 
during  this  part  of  my  flight.  After  Maryland  I  was  to 
pass  through  Delaware — another  slave  State,  where  slave- 
catchers  generally  awaited  their  prey,  for  it  was  not  in 
the  interior  of  the  State,  but  on  its  borders,  that  these 
human  hounds  were  most  vigilant  and  active.  The  bor- 
der lines  between  slavery  and  freedom  were  the  danger- 
ous ones,  for  the  fugitives.  The  heart  of  no  fox  or  deer, 
with  hungry  hounds  on  his  trail,  in  full  chase,  could 
have  beaten  more  anxiously  or  noisily  than  did  mine, 
from  the  time  I  left  Baltimore  till  I  reached  Philadelphia. 
The  passage  of  the  Susquehanna  river  at  Havre  de  Grace 
was  made  by  ferry-boat  at  that  time,  on  board  of  which 
I  met  a  young  colored  man  by  the  name  of  Nichols,  who 
came  very  near  betraying  me.  He  was  a  "  hand  "  on  the 
boat,  but  instead  of  minding  his  business,  he  insisted  up- 
on knowing  me,  and  asking  me  dangerous  questions  as 
to  where  I  was  going,  and  when  I  was  coming  back,  etc. 
I  got  away  from  my  old  and  inconvenient  acquaintance 

PoRTiiAiT  OF  John  Brown. 

ARRIVES   IN   NEW   YORK.  249 

as  soon  as  I  could  decently  do  so,  and  went  to  another 
part  of  the  boat.  Once  across  the  river  I  encountered  a 
new  danger.  Only  a  few  days  before  I  had  been  at  work 
on  a  revenue  cutter,  in  Mr.  Price's  ship-yard,  under  the 
care  of  Captain  McGowan.  On  the  meeting  at  this  point 
of  the  two  trains,  the  one  going  south  stopped  on  the 
track  just  opposite  to  the  one  going  north,  and  it  so  hap- 
pened that  this  Captain  Mcdowan  sat  at  a  window  where 
he  could  see  me  very  distinctly,  and  would  certainly  have 
recognized  me  had  he  looked  at  me  but  for  a  second. 
Fortunately,  in  the  hurry  of  the  moment,  he  did  not  see 
me ;  and  the  trains  soon  passed  each  other  on  their 
respective  ways.  But  this  was  not  the  only  hair-breadth 
escape.  A  German  blacksmith,  whom  I  knew  well,  was 
on  the  train  with  me,  and  looked  at  me  very  intently,  as 
if  he  thought  he  had  seen  me  somewhere  before  in  his 
travels.  I  really  believe  he  knew  me,  but  had  no  heart 
to  betray  me.  '  At  any  rate  he  saw  me  escaping  and  held 
his  peace. 

The  last  point  of  imminent  danger,  and  the  one  I 
dreaded  most,  was  Wilmington.  Here  we  left  the  train 
and  took  the  steamboat  for  Philadelphia.  In  making  the 
change  here  I  again  apprehended  arrest,  but  no  one  dis- 
turbed me,  and  I  was  soon  on  the  broad  and  beautiful 
Delaware,  speeding  away  to  the  Quaker  City.  On  reach- 
ing Philadelphia  in  the  afternoon  I  inquired  of  a  colored 
man  how  I  could  get  on  to  New  York  ?  He  directed  me 
to  the  Willow  street  depot,  and  thither  I  went,  taking  the 
train  that  night.  I  reached  New  York  Tuesday  morning, 
having  completed  the  journey  in  less  than  twenty-four 
hours.  Such  is  briefly  the  manner  of  my  escape  from 
slavery — and  the  end  of  my  experience  as  a  slave.  Other 
chapters  will  tell  the  story  of  my  life  as  a  freeman. 



Loneliness  and  Insecurity — "  Allender's  Jake  " — Succored  by  a  sailor 
— David  Ruggles — Marriage — Steamer  J.  W.  Richmond — Stage  to 
New  Bedford — Arrival  there — Driver's  detention  of  baggage — Na- 
than Johnson — Change  of  name — Why  called  "Douglas" — Obtain- 
ing work — The  Liberator  and  its  editor. 

MY  free  life  began  on  the  third  of  September,  1838. 
On  the  morning  of  the  4th  of  that  month,  after 
an  anxious  and  most  perilous  but  safe  journey,  I  found 
myself  in  the  big  city  of  New  York,  a  free  man ;  one 
more  added  to  the  mighty  throng  which,  like  the  con- 
fused waves  of  the  troubled  sea,  surged  to  and  fro  between 
the  lofty  walls  of  Broadway.  Though  dazzled  with  the 
wonders  which  met  me  on  every  hand,  my  thoughts  could 
not  be  much  withdrawn  from  my  strange  situation.  For  the 
moment  the  dreams  of  my  youth,  and  the  hopes  of  my 
manhood,  were  completely  fulfilled.  The  bonds  that  had 
held  me  to  "  old  master"  were  broken.  No  man  now  had 
a  right  to  call  me  his  slave  or  assert  mastery  over  me. 
I  was  in  the  rough  and  tumble  of  an  outdoor  world,  to 
take  my  chance  with  the  rest  of  its  busy  number.  I  have 
often  been  asked,  how  I  felt  when  first  I  found  myself  on 
free  soil.  And  my  readers  may  share  the  same  curiosity. 
There  is  scarcely  anything  in  my  experience  about  which 
I  could  not  give  a  more  satisfactory  answer.  A  new 
world  had  opened  upon  me.  If  life  is  more  than  breath, 
and  the  "  quick  round  of  blood,"  I  lived  more  in  one  day 
than  in  a  year  of  my  slave  life.  It  was  a  time  of  joyous 
excitement  which  words  can  but  tamely  describe.     In  a 


NEW  YORK  AN  UNSAFE  REFUGE.         251 

letter  written  to  a  friend  soon  after  reaching  New  York, 
I  said :  *'  I  felt  as  one  might  feel  upon  escape  from  a  den 
of  hungry  lions.  "  Anguish  and  grief,  like  darkness  and 
rain,  may  be  depicted  ;  but  gladness  and  joy,  like  the  rain- 
bow, defy  the  skill  of  pen  or  pencil.  During  ten  or  fifteen 
years  I  had,  as  it  were,  been  dragging  a  heavy  chain, 
which  no  strength  of  mine  could  break  ;  I  was  not  only  a 
slave,  but  a  slave  for  life.  I  might  become  a  husband,  a 
father,  an  aged  man,  but  through  all,  from  the  cradle  to 
the  grave,  I  had  felt  myself  doomed.  All  efforts  I  had 
previously  made  to  secure  my  freedom,  had  not  only 
failed,  but  had  seemed  only  to  rivet  my  fetters  the  more 
firmly,  and  to  render  my  escape  more  difficult.  Baffled, 
entangled,  and  discouraged,  I  had  at  times  asked  myself 
the  question.  May  not  my  condition  after  all  be  God's 
work,  and  ordered  for  a  wise  purpose,  and  if  so,  was  not 
submission  my  duty  ?  A  contest  had  in  fact  been  going 
on  in  my  mind  for  a  long  time,  between  the  clear  con- 
sciousness of  right,  and  the  plausible  make-shifts  of  theol- 
ogy and  superstition.  The  one  held  me  an  abject  slave — 
a  prisoner  for  life,  punished  for  some  transgression  in 
which  I  had  no  lot  or  part ;  and  the  other  counseled  me 
to  manly  endeavor  to  secure  my  freedom.  This  contest 
was  now  ended ;  my  chains  were  broken,  and  the  victory 
brought  me  unspeakable  joy.  But  my  gladness  was  short 
lived,  for  I  was  not  yet  out  of  the  reach  and  power  of  the 
slaveholders.  I  soon  found  that  New  York  was  not  quite 
so  free,  or  so  safe  a  refuge  as  I  had  supposed,  and  a  sense 
of  loneliness  and  insecurity  again  oppressed  me  most 
sadly.  I  chanced  to  meet  on  the  street,  a  few  hours  after 
my  landing,  a  fugitive  slave  whom  I  had  once  known  well 
in  slavery.  The  information  received  from  him  alarmed 
me.  The  fugitive  in  question  was  known  in  Baltimore 
as  "  Allender's  Jake,"  but  in  New  York  he  wore  the  more 
respectable  name  of  "  William  Dixon."     Jake  in  law  was 


the  property  of  Doctor  AUender,  and  Tolly  Allendcr,  the 
son  of  the  doctor,  had  once  made  an  effort  to  recapture 
Mr.  Dixon,  but  had  failed  for  want  of  evidence  to  support 
his  claim.  Jake  told  me  the  circumstances  of  this 
attempt,  and  how  narrowly  he  escaped  being  sent  back  to 
slavery  and  torture.  He  told  me  that  New  York  was 
then  full  of  southeners  returning  from  the  watering-places 
north  ;  that  the  colored  people  of  New  York  were  not  to 
be  trusted  ;  that  there  were  hired  men  of  my  own  color 
who  would  betray  me  for  a  few  dollars  ;  that  there  were 
hired  men  ever  on  the  lookout  for  fugitives  ;  that  I  must 
trust  no  man  with  my  secret ;  that  I  must  not  think  of 
going  either  upon  the  wharves,  or  into  any  colored  board- 
ing-house, for  all  such  places  were  closely  watched ;  that 
he  was  himself  unable  to  help  me ;  and,  in  fact,  he  seemed 
while  speaking  to  me,  to  fear  lest  I  myself  might  be  a  spy 
and  a  betrayer.  Under  this  apprehension,  as  I  suppose, 
he  showed  signs  of  wishing  to  be  rid  of  me,  and  with 
whitewash  brush  in  hand,  in  search  of  work,  he  soon  dis- 
appeared. This  picture,  given  by  poor  "  Jake,"  of  New 
York,  was  a  damper  to  my  enthusiasm.  My  little  store 
of  money  would  soon  be  exhausted,  and  since  it  would  be 
unsafe  for  me  to  go  on  the  wharves  for  work,  and  I  had  no 
introductions  elsewhere,  the  prospect  for  me  was  far  from 
cheerful.  I  saw  the  wisdom  of  keeping  away  from  the 
ship-yards,  for,  if  pursued,  as  I  felt  certain  I  would  be, 
Mr.  Auld  would  naturally  seek  me  there  among  the  calk- 
ers.  Every  door  seemed  closed  against  me.  I  was  in  the 
midst  of  an  ocean  of  my  fellow-men,  and  yet  a  perfect 
stranger  to  every  one.  I  was  without  home,  without 
acquaintance,  without  money,  without  credit,  without 
work,  and  without  any  definite  knowledge  as  to  what 
course  to  take,  or  where  to  look  for  succor.  In  such  an 
extremity,  a  man  has  something  beside  his  new-born  free- 
dom to  think  of.     While  wandering  about  the  streets  of 

MARRIED    TO    THE   GIRL   HE   LOVED.  233 

New  York,  and  lodging  at  least  one  night  among  the 
barrels  on  one  of  the  wharves,  I  was  indeed  free — from 
slavery,  but  free  from  food  and  shelter  as  well.  I  kept 
my  secret  to  myself  as  long  as  I  could,  but  was  compelled 
at  last  to  seek  some  one  who  should  befriend  me,  without 
taking  advantage  of  my  destitution  to  betray  me.  Such 
an  one  I  found  in  a  sailor  named  Stuart,  a  warm-hearted 
and  generous  fellow,  who  from  his  humble  home  on  Cen- 
ter street,  saw  me  standing  on  the  opposite  sidewalk, 
near  "  The  Tombs."  As  he  approached  me  I  ventured  a 
remark  to  him  which  at  once  enlisted  his  interest  in  me. 
He  took  me  to  his  home  to  spend  the  night,  and  in  the 
morning  went  with  me  to  Mr.  David  Ruggles,  the  secre- 
tary of  the  New  York  vigilance  committee,  a  co-worker 
with  Isaac  T.  Hopper,  Lewis  and  Arthur  Tappan,  Theo- 
dore S.  Wright,  Samuel  Cornish,  Thomas  Downing, 
Philip  A.  Bell,  and  other  true  men  of  their  time.  All 
these  (save  Mr.  Bell,  who  still  lives,  and  is  editor  and 
publisher  of  a  paper  called  the  Elevator^  in  San  Fran- 
cisco) have  finished  their  work  on  earth.  Once  in  the 
hands  of  these  brave  and  wise  men,  I  felt  comparatively 
safe.  With  Mr.  Ruggles,  on  the  corner  of  Lispenard  and 
Church  streets,  I  Avas  hidden  several  days,  during  which 
time  my  intended  wife  came  on  from  Baltimore  at  my 
call,  to  share  the  burdens  of  life  with  me.  She  was  a 
free  woman,  and  came  at  once  on  getting  the  good  news 
of  my  safety.  We  were  married  by  Rev.  J.  W.  C.  Pen- 
nington, then  a  well-known  and  respected  Presbyterian 
minister.  I  had  no  money  with  which  to  pay  the  mar- 
riage fee,  but  he  seemed  well  pleased  with  our  thanks. 

Mr.  Ruggles  was  the  first  officer  on  the  underground 
railroad  with  whom  I  met  after  coming  North  ;  and  was 
indeed  the  only  one  with  whom  I  had  anything  to  do,  till 
I  became  such  an  officer  myself.  Learning  that  my  trade 
was  that  of  a  calker,  he  promptly  decided  that  the  best 

254  THEY    ARRIVE    AT    NEW   BEDFORD. 

place  for  me  was  in  New  Bedford,  Mass.  He  told  me 
that  many  ships  for  whaling  voyages  were  fitted  out 
there,  and  that  I  might  there  find  work  at  my  trade,  and 
make  a  good  living.  So,  on  the  day  of  the  marriage  cere- 
mony, we  took  our  little  luggage  to  the  steamer  John  W. 
Kiclimond,  w^hich  at  that  time  was  one  of  the  line  run- 
ning between  New  York  and  Newport,  R.  I.  Forty-three 
years  ago  colored  travelers  were  not  permitted  in  the 
cabin,  nor  allowed  abaft  the  paddle-wheels  of  a  steam 
vessel.  They  were  compelled,  whatever  the  weather 
might  be,  whether  cold  or  hot,  wet  or  dry,  to  spend  the 
night  on  deck.  Unjust  as  this  regulation  was,  it  did  not 
trouble  us  much.  We  had  fared  much  harder  before. 
We  arrived  at  Newport  the  next  morning,  and  soon  after 
an  old-fashioned  stage-coach  with  "  New  Bedford "  in 
large,  yellow  letters  on  its  sides,  came  down  to  the  wharf. 
I  had  not  money  enough  to  pay  our  fare,  and  stood  hesi- 
tating to  know  what  to  do.  Fortunately  for  us,  there 
were  two  Quaker  gentlemen  who  were  about  to  take  pas- 
sage on  the  stage, — Friends  William  C.  Taber  and  Joseph 
Eicketson, — who  at  once  discerned  our  true  situation, 
and  in  a  peculiarly  quiet  way,  addressing  me,  Mr.  Taber 
said  :  "  Thee  get  in."  I  never  obeyed  an  order  with  more 
alacrity,  and  we  were  soon  on  our  way  to  our  new  home. 
When  we  reached  "Stone  Bridge"  the  passengers 
alighted  for  breakfast,  and  paid  their  fares  to  the  driver. 
We  took  no  breakfast,  and  when  asked  for  our  fares  I 
told  the  driver  I  would  make  it  right  with  him  when  we 
reached  New  Bedford.  I  expected  some  objection  to 
this  on  his  part,  but  he  made  none.  When,  however,  we 
reached  New  Bedford  he  took  our  baggage,  including 
three  music  books, — two  of  them  collections  by  Dyer, 
and  one  by  Sha\V, — and  held  them  until  I  was  able  to 
redeem  them  by  paying  to  him  the  sums  due  for  our 
rides.     This  was  soon  done,  for  Mr.  Nathan  Johnson  not 

At  the  Wharf  in  Newport 

GETS    A    NEW    NAME.  255 

only  received  me  kindly  and  hospitably,  but,  on  being 
informed  about  our  baggage,  at  once  loaned  me  the  two 
dollars  witli  which  to  square  accounts  with  the  stage- 
driver.  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Nathan  Johnson  reached  a  good  old 
age,  and  now  rest  from  their  labors.  I  am  under  many 
grateful  obligations  to  them.  They  not  only  "  took  me  in 
when  a  stranger,"  and  "fed  me  when  hungry,"  but  taught 
me  how  to  make  an  honest  living. 

Thus,  in  a  fortnight  after  my  flight  from  Maryland,  I 
was  safe  in  New  Bedford, — a  citizen  of  the  grand  old 
commonwealth  of  Massachusetts. 

Once  initiated  into  my  new  life  of  freedom,  and  assured 
by  Mr.  Johnson  that  I  need  not  fear  recapture  in  that 
city,  a  comparatively  unimportant  question  arose,  as  to 
the  name  by  which  I  should  be  known  thereafter,  in  my 
new  relation  as  a  free  man.  The  name  given  me  by  my 
dear  mother  was  no  less  pretentious  and  long  than  Fred- 
erick Augustus  Washington  Bailey.  I  had,  however, 
while  living  in  Maryland  disposed  of  the  Augustus  Wash- 
ington, and  retained  only  Frederick  Bailey.  Between 
Baltimore  and  New  Bedford,  the  better  to  conceal  my- 
self from  the  slave-hunters,  I  had  parted  with  Bailey  and 
called  myself  Johnson ;  but  finding  that  in  New  Bedford 
the  Johnson  family  was  already  so  numerous  as  to  cause 
some  confusion  in  distinguishing  one  from  another,  a 
change  in  this  name  seemed  desirable.  Nathan  Johnson, 
mine  host,  was  emphatic  as  to  this  necessity,  and  wished 
me  to  allow  him  to  select  a  name  for  me.  I  consented, 
and  he  called  me  by  my  present  name, — the  one  by  which 
I  have  been  known  for  three  and  forty  years,— Frederick 
Douglass.  Mr.  Johnson  had  just  been  reading  the  "  Lady 
of  the  Lake,"  and  so  pleased  was  he  with  its  great  char- 
acter that  he  wished  me  to  bear  his  name.  Since  reading 
that  charming  poem  myself,  I  have  often  thought  that, 
considering  the  noble  hospitality  and  manly  character  of 
-    11 

256  POOR    WHITE   TRASH. 

Natlian  Johnson,  black  man  though  he  was,  he,  far  more 
than  I,  illustrated  the  virtues  of  the  Douglas  of  Scotland. 
Sure  am  I  that  if  any  slave-catcher  had  entered  his  domi- 
cile with  a  view  to  my  recapture,  Johnson  would  have 
been  like  him  of  the  "  stalwart  hand." 

The  reader  may  be  surprised,  that  living  in  Baltimore 
as  I  had  done  for  many  years,  when  I  toil  the  honest 
truth  of  the  impressions  I  had  in  some  way  conceived  of 
the  social  and  material  condition  of  the  people  at  the 
north.  I  had  no  proper  idea  of  the  wealth,  refinement, 
enterprise,  and  high  civilization  of  this  section  of  the 
country.  My  Columbian  Orator,  almost  my  only  book, 
had  done  nothing  to  enlighten  me  concerning  northern 
society.  I  had  been  taught  that  slavery  was  the  bottom- 
fact  of  all  wealth.  With  this  foundation  idea,  I  came 
naturally  to  the  conclusion  that  poverty  must  be  the  gen- 
eral condition  of  the  people  of  the  free  States.  A  white 
man  holding  no  slaves  in  the  country  from  which  I  came, 
was  usually  an  ignorant  and  poverty-stricken  man.  Men 
of  this  class  were  contemptuously  called  "  poor  white 
trash."  Hence  I  supposed  that  since  the  non-slaveholders 
at  the  south  were  ignorant,  poor,  and  degraded  as  a  class, 
the  non-slaveholders  at  the  north  must  be  in  a  similar 
condition.  New  Bedford,  therefore,  which  at  that  time 
was  really  the  richest  city  in  the  Union,  in  proportion  to 
its  population,  took  me  greatly  by  surprise,  in  the  evi- 
dences it  gave  of  its  solid  wealth  and  grandeur.  I  found 
that  even  the  laboring  classes  lived  in  better  houses,  that 
their  houses  were  more  elegantly  furnished,  and  were 
more  abundantly  supplied  with  conveniences  and  com- 
forts, than  the  houses  of  many  who  owned  slaves  on  the 
Eastern  Shore  of  Maryland.  This  was  true  not  only  of 
the  white  people  of  that  city,  but  it  was  so  of  my  friend, 
Mr.  Johnson.  He  lived  in  a  nicer  house,  dined  at  a  more 
ami)le  board,  was  the  owner  of  more  books,  the  reader  of 


more  newspapers,  was  more  conversant  with  the  moral, 
social  and  political  condition  of  the  country  and  the 
world,  than  nine-tenths  of  the  slaveholders  in  all  Talbot 
county.  I  was  not  long  in  finding  the  cause  of  the  differ- 
ence, in  these  respects,  between,  the  people  of  the  north 
and  south.  It  was  the  superiority  of  educated  mind  over 
mere  brute  force.  I  will  not  detain  the  reader  by 
extended  ilhistrations  as  to  how  my  understanding  was 
enlightened  on  this  subject.  On  the  wharves  of  New 
Bedford  I  received  my  first  light.  I  saw  there  industry 
without  bustle,  labor  without  noise,  toil — honest,  earnest, 
and  exhaustive — without  the  whip.  There  was  no  loud 
singing  or  hallooing,  as  at  the  wharves  of  southern  ports 
when  ships  were  loading  or  unloading ;  no  loud  cursing  or 
quarreling  ;  everything  went  on  as  smoothly  as  well-oiled 
machinery.  One  of  the  first  incidents  which  impressed 
me  with  the  superior  mental  character  of  labor  in  the 
north  over  that  of  the  south,  was  the  manner  of  loading 
and  unloading  vessels.  In  a  southern  port  twenty  or 
thirty  hands  would  be  employed  to  do  what  or  six 
men,  with  the  help  of  one  ox,  would  do  at  the  wharf  in 
New  Bedford.  Main  strength — human  muscle — unas- 
sisted by  intelligent  skill,  was  slavery's  method  of  labor. 
With  a  capital  of  about  sixty  dollars  in  the  shape  of  a 
good-natured  old  ox,  attached  to  the  end  of  a  stout  rope, 
New  Bedford  did  the  work  of  ten  or  twelve  thousand  dol- 
lars, represented  in  the  bones  and  muscles  of  slaves,  and 
did  it  far  better.  In  a  word,  I  found  everything  managed 
with  a  much  more  scrupulous  regard  to  economy,  both  of 
men  and  things, time  and  strength, than  in  the  country  from 
which  I  had  come.  Instead  of  going  a  hundred  yards  to 
the  spring,  the  maid-servant  had  a  well  or  pump  at  her 
elbow.  The  wood  used  for  fuel  was  kept  dry  and  snugly 
piled  away  for  winter.  Here  were  sinks,  drains,  self-shut- 
ting gates,  pounding-barrels,  washing-machines,  wringing 


machines,  and  a  hundred  other  contrivances  for  saving 
time  and  money.     The  ship-repairing  docks  showed  the 
same  tlioughtful   wisdom  as  seen  elsewhere.     Everybody 
seemed  in  earnest.     The  carpenter  struck  the  nail  on  its 
head,  and  the  calkers  waited  no  strength  in  idle  flourishes 
of  their  mallets.     Ships  brought  here  for  repairs   were 
made  stronger  and  better  than  when  new.     I  could  have 
landed  in  no  part  of  the  United  States  where  I  should 
have  found  a  more  striking  and  gratifying  contrast,  not 
only  to  life  generally  in  the  South,  but  in  the  condition  of 
the  colored  people  there,  than  in  New  Bedford.     No  col- 
ored man  was  really  free  while  residing  in  a  slave  State. 
He  was  ever  more  or  less  subject  to  the  condition  of  his 
slave  brother.     In  his  color  was  his  badge  of  bondage.     I 
saw  in  New  Bedford  the  nearest  approach  to  freedom  and 
equality  that  I  had  ever  seen.     I  was  amazed  when  Mr. 
Johnson  told  me  that  there  was  nothing  in  the  laws  or 
constitution  of  Massachusetts  that  would  prevent  a  col- 
ored man  from  being  governor  of  the  State,  if  the  people 
should  see   fit  to  elect  him.     There  too  the  black  man's 
children  attended  the  same  public  schools  with  the  white 
man's  children,  and  apparently  without  objection  from 
any  quarter.     To  impress  me  with  my  security  from  re- 
capture, and  return  to  slavery,  Mr.  Johnson  assured  me 
that  no  slaveholder  could  take  a  slave  out  of  New  Bed- 
ford ;  that  there  were  men  there  who  would  lay  down 
their  lives  to  save  me  from  such  a  fate.     A  threat  was 
once  made  by  a  colored  man  to  inform  a  southern  master 
where  his  runaway  slave  could  be   found.     As  soon  as 
this  threat  became  known  to  the  colored  people  they  were 
furious.     A  notice  was  read  from  the  pulpit  of  the  Third 
Christian  Church  (colored)  for  a  public   meeting,  when 
important  business  would  be  transacted  (not  stating  what 
the  important  business  was).     In  the  meantime  special 
measures  had  been  taken  to  secure  the  attendance  of  the 

HIS   FIRST   FREE   EARNINGS.       .  259 

would-be  Judas,  and  these  had  proved  successful,  for 
when  the  hour  of  meeting  arrived,  ignorant  of  the  object 
for  which  they  were  called  together,  the  offender  was 
promptly  in  attendance.  All  the  usual  formalities  were 
gone  through  with,  the  prayer,  appointments  of  president, 
secretaries,  etc.  Then  the  president,  with  an  air  of  great 
solemnity,  rose  and  said  :  "  Well,  friends  and  brethren, 
we  have  got  him  here,  and  I  would  recommend  that  you, 
young  men,  should  take  him  outside  the  door  and  kill 
him."  This  was  enough ;  there  was  a  rush  for  the  villain, 
who  would  probably  have  been  killed  but  for  his  escape 
by  an  open  window.  He  was  never  seen  again  in  New 

The  fifth  day  after  my  arrival  I  put  on  the  clothes  of  a 
common  laborer,  and  went  upon  the  wharves  in  search  of 
work.  On  my  way  down  Union  street  I  saw  a  large  pile 
of  coal  in  front  of  the  house  of  Rev.  Ephraim  Peabody, 
the  Unitarian  minister.  I  went  to  the  kitchen-door  and 
asked  the  privilege  of  bringing  in  ,and  putting  away  this 
coal.  "  What  will  you  charge  ? "  said  the  lady.  "  I  will 
leave  that  to  you,  madam."  "  You  may  put  it  away," 
she  said.  I  was  not  long  in  accomplishing  the  job,  when 
the  dear  lady  put  into  my  hand  two  silver  half-dollars. 
To  understand  the  emotion  which  swelled  my  heart  as  I 
clasped  this  money,  realizing  that  I  had  no  master  who 
could  take  it  from  me — that  it  was  mine — that  my  hands 
were  my  own,  and  could  earn  more  of  the  precious  coin — 
one  must  have  been  in  some  sense  himself  a  slave.  My 
next  job  was  stowing  a  sloop  at  Uncle  Gid.  Rowland's 
wharf  with  a  cargo  of  oil  for  New  York.  I  was  not  only 
a  freeman  but  a  free-working  man,  and  no  master  Hugh 
stood  ready  at  the  end  of  the  week  to  seize  my  hard 

The  season  was  growing  late  and  work  was  plenty. 
Ships  were  being  fitted  out  for  whaling,  and  much  wood 


was  used  in  storing  tliem.  Tlie  sawing  this  wood  was 
considered  a  good  job.  With  the  help  of  old  Friend 
Johnson  (blessings  on  his  memory!)  I  got  a  "saw"  and 
"  buck"  and  went  at  it.  When  I  went  into  a  store  to  buy 
a  cord  with  which  to  brace  up  my  saw  in  the  frame, 
I  asked  for  a"fip's"  worth  of  cord.  The  man  behind 
the  counter  looked  rather  sharply  at  me,  and  said  with 
equal  sharpness,  "  You  don't  belong  about  here."  I  was 
alarmed,  and  thought  I  had  betrayed  myself.  A  fip  in 
Maryland  was  six  and  a  quarter  cents,  called  fourpence  in 
Massachusetts.  But  no  harm  came,  except  my  fear,  from 
the  "  fipenny-bit "  blunder,  and  I  confidently  and  cheer- 
fully went  to  work  with  my  saw  and  buck.  It  was  new 
business  to  me,  but  I  never  did  better  work,  nor  more  of 
it  in  the  same  space  of  time,  for  Covey,  the  negro-breaker, 
than  I  did  for  myself  in  these  earliest  years  of  my  free- 

Notwithstanding  the  just  and  humane  sentiment  of  New 
Bedford  three-and-forty  years  ago,  the  place  was  not  entirely 
free  from  race  and  color  prejudice.  The  good  influence 
of  the  Eoaches,  Eodmans,  Arnolds,  Grinnells,  and  Robe- 
sons  did  not  pervade  all  classes  of  its  people.  The  test 
of  the  real  civilization  of  the  community  came  when  I  ap- 
plied for  work  at  my  trade,  and  then  my  repulse  was 
emphatic  and  decisive.  It  so  happened  that  Mr.  Rodney 
French,  a  wealthy  and  enterprising  citizen,  distinguished 
as  an  anti-slavery  man,  was  fitting  out  a  vessel  for  a 
whaling  voyage,  upon  which  there  was  a  heavy  job 
of  calking  and  coppering  to  be  done.  I  had  some  skill  in 
both  branches,  and  applied  to  Mr.  French  for  work.  He, 
generous  man  that  he  was,  told  me  he  would  employ  me, 
and  I  might  go  at  once  to  tlie  vessel.  I  obeyed  him,  but 
upon  reaching  the  float-stage,  where  other  calkers  were  at 
work,  I  was  told  that  every  white  man  would  leave  the 
ship  in  her  unfinished  condition,  if  I  struck  a  blow  at  my 


trade  upon  her.  This  uncivil,  inhuman,  and  selfish  treat- 
ment was  not  so  shocking  and  scandalous  in  my  eyes 
at  the  time  as  it  now  appears  to  me.  Slavery  had  inured 
me  to  hardships  that  made  ordinary  trouble  sit  lightly 
i;pon  me.  Could  I  have  worked  at  my  trade  I  could  have 
earned  two  dollars  a  day,  but  as  a  common  laborer  I 
received  but  one  dollar.  The  difference  was  of  great  im- 
portance to  me,  but  if  I  could  not  get  two  dollars  I  was 
glad  to  get  one ;  and  so  I  went  to  work  for  Mr.  French  as 
a  common  laborer.  The  consciousness  that  I  was  free — 
no  longer  a  slave — kept  me  cheerful  under  this,  and  many 
similar  proscriptions  which  I  was  destined  to  meet  in  New 
Bedford  and  elsewhere  on  the  free  soil  of  Massachusetts. 
For  instance,  though  white  and  colored  children  attended 
the  same  schools,  and  were  treated  kindly  by  their  teach- 
ers, the  New  Bedford  Lyceum  refused  till  several  years 
after  my  residence  in  that  city  to  allow  any  colored  person 
to  attend  the  lectures  delivered  in  its  hall.  Not  until 
such  men  as  Hon.  Chas.  Sumner,  Theodore  Parker,  Ralph 
W.  Emerson,  and  Horace  Mann  refused  to  lecture  in  their 
course  while  there  was  such  a  restriction  was  it  aban- 

Becoming  satisfied  that  I  could  not  rely  on  my  trade  in 
New  Bedford  to  give  me  a  living,  I  prepared  myself  to  do 
any  kind  of  work  that  came  to  hand.  I  sawed  wood, 
shoveled  coal,  dug  cellars,  moved  rubbish  from  back- 
yards, worked  on  the  wharves,  loaded  and  unloaded  ves- 
sels, and  scoured  their  cabins. 

This  was  an  uncertain  and  unsatisfactory  mode  of  life, 
for  it  kept  me  too  much  of  the  time  in  search  of  work. 
Fortunately  it  was  not  to  last  long.  One  of  the  gentlemen 
of  whom  I  have  spoken  as  being  in  company  with  Mr. 
Taber  on  the  Newport  wharf,  when  he  said  to  me,  "  Thee 
get  in,"  was  Mr.  Joseph  Ricketson,  and  he  was  the  pro- 
prietor of   a  large   candle-works   in   the   south    part   of 

2G2  HEAVY    WORK. 

the  city.  In  tliis  "  candle-works,"  as  it  was  called,  though 
no  candles  were  manufactured  there,  by  the  kindness 
of  Mr.  Ricketson  I  found  what  is  of  the  utmost  importance 
to  a  young  man  just  starting  in  life  —  constant  employ- 
ment and  regular  wages.  My  work  in  this  oil-refinery 
required  good  wind  and  muscle.  Large  casks  of  oil  were 
to  be  moved  from  place  to  place,  and  much  heavy  lifting 
to  be  done.  Happily  I  was  not  deficient  in  the  requisite 
qualities.  Young  (21  years),  strong,  and  active,  and  am- 
bitious to  do  my  full  share,  I  soon  made  myself  useful, 
and  I  think  liked  by  the  men  who  worked  with  me,  though 
they  were  all  white.  I  was  retained  here  as  long  as  there 
was  anything  for  me  to  do,  when  I  went  again  to  the  wharves 
and  obtained  work  as  a  laborer  on  two  vessels  which  be- 
longed to  Mr.  George  Rowland,  and  which  were  being 
repaired  and  fitted  up  for  whaling.  My  employer  was  a  man 
of  great  industry ;  a  hard  driver,  but  a  good  paymaster, 
and  I  got  on  well  with  him.  I  was  not  only  fortunate  in 
finding  work  with  Mr.  Howland,  but  in  my  work-fellows. 
I  have  seldom  met  three  working  men  more  intelligent 
than  were  John  Briggs,  Abraham  Rodman,  and  Solomon 
Pennington,  who  labored  with  me  on  the  "Java"  and 
"  Golconda."  They  were  sober,  thoughtful,  and  upright, 
thorouglily  imbued  with  the  spirit  of  liberty,  and  1  am 
much  indebted  to  them  for  many  valuable  ideas  and  im- 
pressions. They  taught  me  that  all  colored  men  were 
not  light-hearted  triflers,  incapable  of  serious  thought  or 
effort.  My  next  place  of  work  was  at  the  brass-foundry 
owned  by  Mr.  Richmond.  My  duty  here  was  to  blow  the 
bellows,  swing  the  crane,  and  empty  the  flasks  in  which 
castings  were  made ;  and  at  times  this  was  hot  and  heavy 
work.  The  articles  produced  here  were  mostly  for  ship- 
work,  and  in  the  busy  season  the  foundry  was  in  operation 
night  and  day.  I  have  often  worked  two  nights  and  each 
working  day  of  the  week.     My  foreman,  Mr.  Cobb,  was  a 


good  man,  and  more  than  once  protected  me  from  abuse 
that  one  or  more  of  the  hands  were  disposed  to  throw  upon 
me.  While  in  this  situation  I  had  little  time  for  mental 
improvement.  Hard  work,  night  and  day,  over  a  furnace 
hot  enough  to  keep  the  metal  running  like  water,  was 
more  favorable  to  action  than  thought,  yet  here  I  often 
nailed  a  newspaper  to  the  post  near  my  bellows,  and  read 
while  I  was  performing  the  up  and  down  motion  of 
the  heavy  beam  by  which  the  bellows  was  inflated  and 
discharged.  It  was  the  pursuit  of  knowledge  under  diffi- 
culties, and  I  look  back  to  it  now  after  so  many  years 
with  some  complacency  and  a  little  wonder  that  I  could 
have  been  so  earnest  and  persevering  in  any  pursuit  other 
than  for  my  daily  bread.  I  certainly  saw  nothing  in  the 
conduct  of  those  around  to  inspire  me  with  such  interest; 
they  were  all  devoted  exclusively  to  what  their  hands 
found  to  do.  I  am  glad  to  be  able  to  say  that  during  my 
engagement  in  this  foundry  no  complaint  was  ever  made 
against  me  that  I  did  not  do  my  work,  and  do  it  well. 
The  bellows  which  I  worked  by  main  strength  was,  after  I 
left,  moved  by  a  steam-engine. 

I  had  been  living  four  or  five  months  in  New  Bedford 
when  there  came  a  young  man  to  me  with  a  copy  of 
the  Liberator^  the  paper  edited  by  William  Lloyd  Garri- 
son and  published  by  Isaac  Knapp,  and  asked  me  to 
subscribe  for  it.  I  told  him  I  had  but  just  escaped  from 
slavery,  and  was  of  course  very  poor,  and  had  no  money 
then  to  pay  for  it.  He  was  very  willing  to  take  me  as  a  sub- 
scriber, notwithstanding,  and  from  this  time  I  was  brought 
into  contact  with  the  mind  of  Mr.  Garrison,  and  his  paper 
took  a  place  in  my  heart  second  only  to  the  Bible.  It  de- 
tested slavery,  and  made  no  truce  with  the  traffickers  in 
the  bodies  and  souls  of  men.  It  preached  human  broth- 
erhood; it  exposed  hypocrisy  and  wickedness  in  high 
places;  it  denounced  oppression;  and  with  all  the  sol- 


emnity  of  "  Thus  saith  the  Lord,"  demanded  the  complete 
emancipation  of  my  race.  I  loved  this  paper  and  its 
editor.  He  seemed  to  me  an  all-sufficient  match  to  every 
opponent,  whetlier  they  spoke  in  the  name  of  the  law  or 
the  gospel.  His  words  were  full  of  holy  fire,  and  straight 
to  the  point.  Something  of  a  hero-worshiper  by  nature, 
here  was  one  to  excite  my  admiration  and  reverence. 

Soon  after  becoming  a  reader  of  the  Liberator^  it  was 
my  privilege  to  listen  to  a  lecture  in  Liberty  Hall  by 
Mr.  Garrison,  its  editor.  He  w^as  then  a  young  man, 
of  a  singularly  pleasing  countenance,  and  earnest  and 
impressive  manner.  On  this  occasion  he  announced 
nearly  all  his  heresies.  His  Bible  was  his  text- 
book—  held  sacred  as  the  very  word  of  the  Eternal 
Father.  He  believed  in  sinless  perfection,  complete  sub- 
mission to  insults  and  injuries,  and  literal  obedience  to 
the  injunction  if  smitten  "  on  one  cheek  to  turn  the  other 
also."  Not  only  was  Sunday  a  Sabbath,  but  all  days 
Tvere  Sabbaths,  and  to  be  kept  holy.  All  sectarianism 
was  false  and  mischievous — the  regenerated  throughout 
the  world  being  members  of  one  body,  and  the  head 
Christ  Jesus.  Prejudice  against  color  was  rebellion  against 
God.  Of  all  men  beneath  the  sky,  the  slaves,  because 
most  neglected  and  despised,  were  nearest  and  dearest 
to  his  great  heart.  Those  ministers  who  defended  slavery 
from  the  Bible  were  of  their  "father  the  devil";  and 
those  churches  which  fellowshiped  slaveholders  as  Chris- 
tians, were  synagogues  of  Satan,  and  our  nation  was  a 
nation  of  liars.  He  was  never  loud  and  noisy,  but  calm 
and  serene  as  a  summer  sky,  and  as  pure.  "  You  are  the 
man — the  Moses,  raised  up  by  God,  to  deliver  his  modern 
Israel  from  bondage,"  was  the  spontaneous  feeling  of  my 
heart,  as  I  sat  away  back  in  the  hall  and  listened  to  his 
mighty  words, —  mighty  in  truth, — mighty  in  their 
simple    earnestness.     I    had    not   long   been   a   reader 

HE   HEARS    HIM   LECTURE.  265 

of  the  Liberator^  and  a  listener  to  its  editor,  before 
I  got  a  clear  comprehension  of  the  principles  of 
the  anti-slavery  movement.  I  had  already  its  spirit, 
and  only  needed  to  understand  its  principles  and  mea- 
sures, and  as  I  became  acquainted  with  these  my 
hope  for  the  ultimate  freedom  of  my  race  increased. 
Every  week  the  Liberator  came,  and  every  week  I  made 
myself  master  of  its  contents.  All  the  anti-slavery  meet- 
ings held  in  New  Bedford  I  promptly  attended,  my  heart 
bounding  at  every  true  utterance  against  the  slave  sys- 
tem, and  every  rebuke  of  its  friends  and  supporters. 
Thus  passed  the  first  three  years  of  my  free  life.  I  had 
not  then  dreamed  of  iho.  possibility  of  my  becoming  a 
public  advocate  of  the  cause  so  deeply  imbedded  in  my 
heart.  It  was  enough  for  me  to  listen,  to  receive,  and 
applaud  the  great  words  of  others,  and  only  whisper  in 
private,  among  the  white  laborers  on  the  wharves  and 
elsewhere,  the  truths  which  burned  in  my  heart. 



Anti-Slavery  Convention  at  Nantucket — First  Speech — Much  Sensa- 
tion— Extraordinary  Speech  of  Mr.  Garrison — Anti- Slavery  Agency 
— Youthful  Enthusiasm — Fugitive  Slaveship  doubted — Experience 
in  Slavery  written — Danger  of  Recapture. 

IN  the  summer  of  1841  a  grand  anti-slaverj  convention 
was  held  in  Nantucket,  under  the  auspices  of  Mr. 
Garrison  and  his  friends.  I  had  taken  no  holiday  since 
establishing  myself  in  New  Bedford,  and  feeling  the  need 
of  a  little  rest,  I  determined  on  attending  the  meeting, 
though  I  had  no  thought  of  taking  part  in  any  of  its  pro- 
ceedings. Indeed,  I  was  not  aware  that  any  one  con- 
nected with  the  convention  so  much  as  knew  my  name. 
Mr.  William  C.  Coffin,  a  prominent  abolitionist  in  those 
days  of  trial,  had  heard  me  speaking  to  my  colored 
friends  in  the  little  school-house  on  Second  street,  where 
we  worshiped.  He  sought  me  out  in  the  crowd  and 
invited  me  to  say  a  few  words  to  the  convention.  Thus 
sought  out,  and  thus  invited,  I  was  induced  to  express 
the  feelings  inspired  by  the  occasion,  and  the  fresh  recol- 
lection of  the  scenes  through  which  I  had  passed  as  a 
slave.  It  was  with  the  utmost  difficulty  that  I  could 
stand  erect,  or  that  I  could  command  and  articulate  two 
words  without  hesitation  and  stammering.  I  trembled 
in  every  limb.  I  am  not  sure  that  my  embarrassment 
was  not  the  most  effective  part  of  my  speech,  if  speech  it 
could  be  called.  At  any  rate,  this  is  about  the  only  part 
of  my  performance  that  I  now  distinctly  remember.  The 
audience  Sympathized  with  me  at  once,  and  from  having 



been  remarkably  quiet,  became  much  excited.  Mr.  Gar- 
rison followed  me,  taking  me  as  his  text,  and  now, 
whether  /had  made  an  eloquent  plea  in  behalf  of  freedom, 
or  not,  his  was  one,  never  to  be  forgotten.  Those  who 
had  heard  him  oftenest,  and  had  known  him  longest, 
were  astonished  at  his  masterly  effort.  For  the  time  he 
possessed  that  almost  fabulous  inspiration  often  referred 
to  but  seldom  attained,  in  which  a  public  meeting  is 
transformed,  as  it  were,  into  a  single  individuality,  the 
orator  swaying  a  thousand  heads  and  hearts  at  once,  and 
by  the  simple  majesty  of  his  all-controlling  thought,  con- 
verting his  hearers  into  the  express  image  of  his  own 
soul.  That  night  there  were  at  least  a  thousand  Garri- 
sonians  in  Nantucket ! 

At  the  close  of  this  great  meeting  I  was  duly  waited  on 
by  Mr.  John  A.  Collins,  then  the  general  agent  of  the 
Massachusetts  Anti-Slavery  Society,  and  urgently  solicited 
by  him  to  become  an  agent  of  that  society,  and  publicly 
advocate  its  principles.  I  was  reluctant  to  take  the 
proffered  position.  I  had  not  been  quite  three  years 
from  slavery  and  was  honestly  distrustful  of  my  ability, 
and  I  wished  to  be  excused.  Besides,  publicity  might 
discover  me  to  my  master,  and  many  other  objections 
presented  themselves.  But  Mr.  Collins  was  not  to  be 
refused,  and  1  finally  consented  to  go  out  for  three 
months,  supposing  I  should  in  that  length  of  time  come 
to  the  end  of  my  story  and  my  consequent'  usefulness. 

Here  opened  for  me  a  new  life — a  life  for  which  I  had 
had  no  preparation.  Mr.  Collins  used  to  say  when  intro- 
ducing me  to  an  audience,  I  was  a  "  graduate  from  the 
peculiar  institution,  with  my  diploma  written  on  my  lackP 
The  three  years  of  my  freedom  had  been  spent  in  the 
hard  school  of  adversity.  My  hands  seemed  to  be  fur- 
nished with  something  like  a  leather  coating,  and  I  had 
marked  out  for  myself  a  life  of  rough  labor,  suited  to  the 

2G8  AS    A    CHATTEL. 

hardness  of  my  hands,  as  a  means  of  supporting  my 
family  and  rearing  my  children. 

Yonng,  ardent,  and  hopeful,  I  entered  upon  tliis  new 
life  in  the  full  gush  of  unsuspecting  enthusiasm.  The 
cause  was  good,  the  men  engaged  in  it  were  good,  the 
means  to  attain  its  triumph,  good.  Heaven's  blessing 
must  attend  all,  and  freedom  must  soon  be  given  to  the 
millions  pining  under  a  ruthless  bondafi:e.  My  whole 
heart  went  with  the  holy  cause,  and  my  most  fervent 
prayer  to  the  Almighty  Disposer  of  the  hearts  of  men, 
was  continually  offered  for  its  early  triumph.  In  this 
enthusiastic  spirit  I  dropped  into  the  ranks  of  freedom's 
friends  and  went  forth  to  the  battle.  For  a  time  I  was 
made  to  forget  that  my  skin  was  dark  and  my  hair 
crisped.  For  a  time  I  regretted  that  I  could  not  have 
shared  the  hardships  and  dangers  endured  by  the  earlier 
w^orkers  for  the  slave's  release.  I  found,  however,  full 
soon  that  my  enthusiasm  had  been  extravagant,  that 
hardships  and  dangers  were  not  all  over,  and  that  the 
life  now  before  me  had  its  shadows  also,  as  well  as  its 

Among  the  first  duties  assigned  me  on  entering  the 
ranks  was  to  travel  in  company  with  Mr.  George  Foster 
to  secure  subscribers  to  the  Anti-Slavery  Standard  and 
the  Liberator.  With  him  I  traveled  and  lectured  through 
the  eastern  counties  of  Massachusetts.  Much  interest 
was  awakened — large  meetings  assembled.  Many  came, 
no  doubt  from  curiosity  to  hear  what  a  negro  could  say 
in  his  own  cause.  I  was  generally  introduced  as  a  "  chat- 
tel " — a  "thing" — a  piece  of  southern  property — the 
chairman  assuring  the  audience  that  it  could  speak. 
Fugitive  slaves  were  rare  then,  and  as  a  fugitive  slave 
lecturer,  I  had  the  advantage  of  being  a  "  bran  new  fact" 
— the  first  one  out.  Up  to  that  time,  a  colored  man  was 
deemed  a  fool  who  confessed  himself  a  runaway  slave, 


not  only  because  of  the  danger  to  which  he  exposed  him- 
self of  being  retaken,  but  because  it  was  a  confession  of 
a  very  low  origin.  Some  of  my  colored  friends  in  New 
Bedford  thought  very  badly  of  my  wisdom  in  thus  expos- 
ing and  degrading  myself.  The  only  precaution  I  took 
at  the  beginning,  to  prevent  Master  Thomas  from  know- 
ing where  I  was  and  what  I  was  about,  was  the  withhold- 
ing my  former  name,  my  master's  name,  and  the  name 
of  the  State  and  county  from  which  I  came.  During  the 
first  three  or  four  months  my  speeches  were  almost 
exclusively  made  up  of  narrations  of  my  own  personal 
experience  as  a  slave.  "  Let  us  have  the  facts,"  said  the 
people.  So  also  said  Friend  George  Foster,  who  always 
wished  to  pin  me  down  to  a  simple  narrative.  "  Give 
us  the  facts,"  said  Collins,  "  we  will  take  care  of  the 
philosophy."  Just  here  arose  some  embarrassment.  It 
was  impossible  for  me  to  repeat  the  same  old  story  month 
after  month,  and  to  keep  up  my  interest  in  it.  It  was  new 
to  the  people,  it  is  true,  but  it  was  an  old  story  to  me ; 
and  to  go  through  with  it  night  after  night  was  a  task  al- 
together too  mechanical  for  my  nature.  "  Tell  your 
story,  Frederick,"  would  whisper  my  revered  friend,  Mr. 
Garrison,  as  I  stepped  upon  the  platform.  I  could  not 
always  follow  the  injunction,  for  I  was  now  reading  and 
thinking.  New  views  of  the  subject  were  being  presented 
to  my  mind.  It  did  not  entirely  satisfy  me  to  narrate 
wrongs  ;  I  felt  like  denouncing  them.  I  could  not  always 
curb  my  moral  indignation  for  the  perpetrators  of  slave- 
holding  villainy  long  enough  for  a  circumstantial  state- 
ment of  the  facts  which  I  felt  almost  sure  everybody  must 
know.  Besides,  I  was  growing,  and  needed  room. 
"  People  won't  believe  you  ever  was  a  slave,  Frederick,  if 
you  keep  on  this  way,"  said  friend  Foster.  "  Be  your- 
self," said  Collins,  "  and  tell  your  story."  "  Better  have 
a  little   of  the   plantation   speech   than   not,"  was  said 


to  me ;  "  it  is  not  best  that  you  seem  too  learned."  These 
excellent  friends  were  actuated  by  the  best  of  motives, 
and  were  not  altogether  wrong  in  their  advice  ;  and  still  I 
must  speak  just  the  word  that  seemed  to  me  the  word  to 
be  spoken  hy  me. 

At  last  the  apprehended  trouble  came.  People  doubted 
if  I  had  ever  been  a  slave.  They  said  I  did  not  talk  like  a 
slave,  look  like  a  slave,  nor  act  like  a  slave,  and  that  they 
believed  I  had  never  been  south  of  Mason  and  Dixon's  line. 
"  He  don't  tell  us  where  he  came  from,  what  his  master's 
name  was,  nor  how  he  got  away ;  besides  he  is  educated,  and 
is  in  this  a  contradiction  of  all  the  facts  we  have  concerning 
the  ignorance  of  the  slaves."  Thus  I  was  in  a  pretty  fair 
way  to  be  denounced  as  an  impostor.  The  committee  of 
the  Massachusetts  Anti-Slavery  Society  knew  all  the  facts 
in  my  case,  and  agreed  with  me  thus  far  in  the  prudence 
of  keeping  them  private ;  but  going  down  the  aisles 
of  the  churches  in  which  my  meetings  were  held,  and 
hearing  the  outspoken  Yankees  repeatedly  saying,  "  He's 
never  been  a  slave,  I'll  warrant  you,"  I  resolved  to  dispel 
all  doubt  at  no  distant  day  by  such  a  revelation  of  facts 
as  could  not  be  made  by  any  other  than  a  genuine  fugi- 
tive. In  a  little  less  than  four  years,  therefore,  after 
becoming  a  public  lecturer,  I  was  induced  to  write  out  the 
leading  facts  connected  with  my  experience  in  slavery, 
giving  names  of  persons,  places,  and  dates,  thus  putting  it 
in  the  power  of  any  who  doubted  to  ascertain  the  truth  or 
falsehood  of  my  story.  This  statement  soon  became 
known  in  Maryland,  and  I  had  reason  to  believe  that  an 
effort  would  be  made  to  recapture  me. 

It  is  not  probable  that  any  open  attempt  to  secure  me 
as  a  slave  could  have  succeeded  further  than  the  obtain- 
ment  by  my  master  of  the  money  value  of  my  bones  and 
sinews.  Fortunately  for  me,  in  the  four  years  of  my 
labors  in  the  abolition  cause  I  had  gained  many  friends 


who  would  have  suffered  themselves  to  be  taxed  to  almost 
any  extent  to  save  me  from  slavery.  It  was  felt  that  I  had 
committed  the  double  offense  of  running  away  and  exposing 
the  secrets  and  crimes  of  slavery  and  slaveholders.  There 
was  a  double  motive  for  seeking  my  re-enslavement — 
avarice  and  vengeance  ;  and  while,  as  I  have  said,  there 
was  little  probability  of  successful  recapture,  if  attempted 
openly,  I  was  constantly  in  danger  of  being  spirited  away  at 
a  moment  when  my  friends  could  render  me  no  assistance. 
In  traveling  about  from  place  to  place,  often  alone,  I  was 
much  exposed  to  this  sort  of  attack.  Any  one  cherishing 
the  desire  to  betray  me  could  easily  do  so  by  simply  tracing 
my  whereabouts  through  the  anti-slavery  journals,  for  my 
movements  and  meetings  were  made  through  these  in  ad- 
vance. My  friends  Mr.  Garrison  and  Mr.  Phillips  had  no 
faith  in  the  power  of  Massachusetts  to  protect  me  in  my 
right  to  liberty.  Public  sentiment  and  the  law,  in  their 
opinion,  would  hand  me  over  to  the  tormentors.  Mr. 
Phillips  especially  considered  me  in  danger,  and  said, 
when  I  showed  him  the  manuscript  of  my  story,  if  in  my 
place  he  would  "  throw  it  into  the  fire."  Thus  the  reader 
will  observe  that  the  overcoming  of  one  difficulty  only 
opened  the  way  for  another,  and  that  though  I  had 
reached  a  free  State,  and  had  attained  a  position  for 
public  usefulness,  I  was  still  under  the  liability  of  losing 
all  I  had  gained. 



Work  in  Rhode  Island — Dorr  War — Recollections  of  old  friends — 
Further  labors  in  Rhode  Island  and  elsewhere  in  New  England. 

IN  the  State  of  Rliode  Island,  under  the  leadership  of 
Thomas  W.  Dorr,  an  effort  was  made  in  1841  to  set 
aside  the  old  colonial  charter,  under  which  that  State  had 
lived  and  flourished  since  the  Revolution,  and  to  replace 
it  with  a  new  constitution  having  such  improvements  as  it 
was  thought  that  time  and  experience  had  shown  to  be 
wise  and  necessary.  This  new  constitution  was  especially 
framed  to  enlarge  the  basis  of  representation  so  far  as 
the  white  people  of  the  State  were  concerned — to  abolish 
an  odious  property  qualification  and  to  confine  the  right 
of  suffrage  to  white  male  citizens  only.  Mr.  Dorr  was 
himself  a  well-meaning  man,  and,  after  his  fashion,  a  man 
of  broad  and  progressive  views  quite  in  advance  of 
the  party  with  which  he  acted.  To  gain  their  support  he 
consented  to  this  restriction  to  a  class  a  right  which 
ought  to  be  enjoyed  by  all  citizens.  In  this  he  consulted 
policy  rather  than  right,  and  at  last  shared  the  fate  of  all 
compromisers  and  trimmers,  for  he  was  disastrously  de- 
feated. The  prescriptive  features  of  his  constitution 
shocked  the  sense  of  right  and  roused  the  moral  indigna- 
tion of  the  abolitionists  of  the  State,  a  class  which  would 
otherwise  have  gladly  co-operated  with  him,  at  the  same 
time  that  it  did  nothing  to  win  support  from  the  conserv- 
ative class  which  clung  to  the  old  charter.  Anti-slavery 
men  wanted  a  new  constitution,  but  they  did  not  want  a 



defective  instrument  which  required  reform  at  the  start. 
The  result   was   that   such   men   as  William  M.    Chase, 
Thomas  Davis,  George  L.  Clark,  Asa  Fairbanks,  Alphonso 
Janes,   and   others   of   Providence,   the    Ferry   brothers 
of  Westerly,  John  Brown  and    C.  C.  Eldridge  of  East 
Greenwich,  Daniel  Mitchell,  William  Adams,  and  Eobert 
Shove  of  Pawtucket,  Peleg  Clark,  Caleb  Kelton,  G.  J. 
Adams,  and  tlie  Anthonys  and  Goulds  of  Coventry  and 
vicinity,  Edward  Harris  of  Woonsocket,  and  other  aboli- 
tionists  of   the    State,  decided  that  the  time  had   come 
when  the  people  of  Rhode  Island  might  be  taught  a  more 
comprehensive  gospel  of  human  riglits  than  had  gotten 
itself  into  this  Dorr  constitution.     The  public  mind  was 
awake,  and  one  class  of  its  people  at  least  was  ready  to 
work  with  us  to  the  extent  of  seeking  to  defeat  the  pro- 
posed constitution,  though  their  reasons  for  such   work 
were  far  different  from  ours.     Steplien  S.  Foster,  Parker 
Pillsbury,  Abby  Kelley,  James  Monroe,  and  myself  were 
called  into  the  State  to  advocate  equal  rights  as  against 
this  narrow  and  prescriptive  constitution.     The  work  to 
which  we  were  invited  was  not  free  from  difficulty.     The 
majority  of  the  people  were  evidently  with  the  new  con- 
stitution ;  even  the  word  white  in  it  chimed  well  with  the 
popular  prejudice  against  the  colored  race,   and  at   the 
first   helped  to   make   the  movement  popular.     On   the 
other  hand,  all  the  arguments  which  the  Dorr  men  could 
urge  against  a  property  qualification  for  suffrage   were 
equally  cogent  against  a  color  qualification,  and  this  was 
our  advantage.     But  the  contest  was  intensely  bitter  and 
exciting.     We  were  as  usual  denounced  as  intermeddlers 
(carpet-bagger  had  not  come  into  use  at  that  time),  and 
were  told  to  mind  our  own  business,  and  the  like,  a  mode 
of  defense   common  to  men  when  called  to  account  for 
mean   and   discreditable    conduct.     Stephen   S.    Foster, 
Parker  Pillsbury,  and  the  rest  of  us  were  not  the  kind  of 


men  to  be  ordered  off  by  that  sort  of  opposition.  We 
cared  nothing  for  the  Dorr  party  on  the  one  liand,  nor 
the  "  law  and  order  party "  on  the  other.  What  we 
wanted,  and  what  we  labored  to  obtain,  was  a  constitution 
free  from  the  narrow,  selfish,  and  senseless  limitation  of 
the  word  white.  Naturally  enough,  when  we  said  a  strong 
and  striking  word  against  the  Dorr  Constitution  the  con- 
servatives were  pleased  and  applauded,  while  the  Dorr 
men  were  disgusted  and  indignant.  Foster  and  Pills- 
bury  were  like  the  rest  of  us,  young,  strong,  and  at  their 
best  in  this  contest.  The  splendid  vehemence  of  the 
one,  and  the  weird  and  terrible  denunciations  of  the 
other,  never  failed  to  stir  up  mobocratic  wrath  wherever 
they  spoke.  Foster,  especially,  was  effective  in  this  line. 
His  theory  was  that  he  must  make  converts  or  mobs. 
If  neither  came  he  charged  it  either  to  his  want  of  skill 
or  his  unfaithfulness.  I  was  much  with  Mr.  Foster  dur- 
ing the  tour  in  Rhode  Island,  and  though  at  times  ho 
seemed  to  me  extravagant  and  needlessly  offensive  in  his 
manner  of  presenting  his  ideas,  yet  take  him  for  all  in  all, 
he  was  one  of  the  most  impressive  advocates  the  cause  of 
the  American  slave  ever  had.  No  white  man  ever  made  the 
black  man's  cause  more  completely  his  own.  Abby  Kel- 
ley,  since  Abby  Kelley  Foster,  was  perhaps  the  most  suc- 
cessful of  any  of  us.  Her  youth  and  simple  Quaker 
beauty,  combined  with  her  wonderful  earnestness,  her 
large  knowledge  and  great  logical  power,  bore  down  all 
opposition  to  the  end,  wherever  she  spoke,  though  she 
was  before  pelted  with  foul  eggs,  and  no  less  foul  words, 
from  the  noisy  mobs  which  attended  us. 

Monroe  and  I  were  less  aggressive  than  either  of  our 
co-workers,  and  of  course  did  not  provoke  the  same 
resistance.  He,  at  least,  had  the  eloquence  that  charms, 
and  the  skill  that  disarms.  I  think  that  our  labors  in 
Rhode  Island  during  this  Dorr  excitement  did  more  to 


abolitionize  the  State  than  any  previous  or  subsequent 
work.  It  was  the  "  tide,"  "  taken  at  the  flood."  One 
effect  of  those  labors  was  to  induce  the  old  "  Law  and 
Order  "  party,  when  it  set  about  making  its  new  constitu- 
tion, to  avoid  the  narrow  folly  of  the  Dorrites,  and  make 
a  constitution  which  should  not  abridge  any  man's  rights 
on  account  of  race  or  color.  Such  a  constitution  was  finally 

Owing  perhaps  to  my  efficiency  in  this  campaign  I 
was  for  awhile  employed  in  further  labors  in  Rhode 
Island  by  the  State  Anti-Slavery  Society,  and  made  there 
many  friends  to  my  cause  as  well  as  to  myself.  As  a 
class  the  abolitionists  of  this  State  partook  of  the  spirit 
of  its  founder.  They  had  their  own  opinions,  were  inde- 
pendent, and  called  no  man  master.  I  have  reason  to 
remember  them  most  gratefully.  They  received  me  as  a 
man  and  a  brother,  when  I  was  new  from  the  house  of 
bondage,  and  had  few  of  the  graces  derived  from  free  and 
refined  society.  They  took  me  with  earnest  hand  to 
their  homes  and  hearths,  and  made  me  feel  that  though 
I  wore  the  burnished  livery  of  the  sun  I  was  still  a  coun- 
tryman and  kinsman  of  whom  they  were  never  ashamed. 
I  can  never  forget  the  Clarks,  Keltons,  Chases,  BroAvns, 
Adams,  Greenes,  Sissons,  Eldredges,  Mitchells,  Shoves, 
Anthonys,  Applins,  Janes,  G-oulds,  Fairbanks,  and  many 

While  thus  remembering  the  noble  anti-slavery  men 
and  women  of  Rhode  Island,  I  do  not  forget  that  I 
suffered  much  rough  usage  within  her  borders.  It  was 
like  all  the  northern  States  at  that  time,  under  the 
influence  of  slave  power,  and  often  showed  a  prescriptive 
and  persecuting  spirit,  especially  upon  its  railways,  steam- 
boats, and  in  its  public  houses.  The  Stonington  route  was 
a  "  hard  road  "  for  a  colored  man  "  to  travel "  in  that  day. 
I  was  several  times  dragged  from  the  cars  for  the  crime 

276  TRUE   MEN. 

of  being  colored.  On  tlie  Sound  between  New  York  and 
Stonington,  there  were  the  same  proscriptions  which  I 
have  before  named  as  enforced  on  the  steamboats  runnintr 


between  New  York  and  Newport.  No  colored  man  was 
allowed  abaft  the  wheel,  and  in  all  seasons  of  the  year, 
in  heat  or  cold,  wet  or  dry,  the  deck  was  his  only  place. 
If  I  would  lie  down  at  night  I  must  do  so  upon  the  freight 
on  deck,  and  this  in  cold  weather  was  not  a  very  com- 
fortable bed.  When  traveling  in  company  with  my  white 
friends  I  always  urged  them  to  leave  me  and  go  into  the 
cabin  and  take  their  comfortable  births.  I  saw  no  reason 
why  they  should  be  miserable  because  I  was.  Some  of 
them  took  my  advice  very  readily.  I  confess,  however, 
that  while  I  was  entirely  honest  in  urging  them  to  go, 
and  saw  no  principle  that  should  bind  them  to  stay  and 
suffer  with  me,  I  always  felt  a  little  nearer  to  those  who 
did  not  take  my  advice  and  persisted  in  sharing  my  hard- 
ships with  me. 

There  is  something  in  the  world  above  fixed  rules  and 
the  logic  of  right  and  wrong,  and  there  is  some  founda- 
tion for  I'ecognizing  works,  which  may  be  called  works  of 
supererogation.  Wendell  Phillips,  James  Monroe,  and 
William  White,  were  always  dear  to  me  for  their  nice 
feeling  at  this  point.  I  have  known  James  Monroe  to 
pull  his  coat  about  him  and  crawl  upon  the  cotton  bales 
betAveen  decks  and  pass  the  night  with  me,  without  a 
murmur.  Wendell  Phillips  would  never  go  into  a  first- 
class  car  while  I  was  forced  into  what  was  called  the 
Jim  Crow  car.  True  men  they  were,  who  could  accept 
welcome  at  no  man's  table  where  I  was  refused.  I  speak 
of  these  gentlemen,  not  as  singular  or  exceptional 
cases,  but  as  representatives  of  a  large  class  of  the  early 
workers  for  the  abolition  of  slavery.  As  a  general  rule 
there  was  little  difficulty  in  obtaining  suitable  places  in 
New  England  after  1840,  where  I  could  plead  the  cause 


of  111}"  people.  The  abolitionists  had  passsd  the  Red  Sea 
of  mobs,  and  had  conquered  the  right  to  a  respectful 
hearing.  I,  however,  found  several  towns  in  which  the 
people  closed  their  doors  and  refused  to  entertain  the 
subject.  Notably  among  these  was  Hartford,  Conn.,  and 
Grafton,  Mass.  In  the  former  place  Messrs.  Grarrison, 
Hudson,  Foster,  Abby  Kelley,  and  myself  determined  to 
hold  our  meetings  under  the  open  sky,  which  we  did  in  a 
little  court  under  the  eaves  of  the  "  sanctuary  "  ministered 
unto  by  the  Rev.  Dr.  Hawes,  with  much  satisfaction  to 
ourselves,  and  I  think  with  advantage  to  our  cause.  In 
Grafton  I  was  alone,  and  there  was  neither  house,  hall, 
church,  nor  market-place  in  which  I  could  speak  to  the 
people  ;  but,  determired  to  speah,  I  went  to  the  hotel  and 
borrowed  a  dinner-bell,  with  which  in  hand  I  passed 
through  the  principal  streets,  ringing  the  bell  and  crying 
out,  "  Notice  !  Frederick  Douglass,  recently  a  slave,  will 
lecture  on  American  Slav^ery,  on  Grafton  Common,  this 
evening,  at  7  o'clock.  Those  who  would  like  to  hear  of 
the  worlcings  of  slavery  by  one  of  the  slaves  are  respect- 
fully invited  to  attend."  This  notice  brought  out  a  large 
audience,  after  which  the  largest  church  in  town  was 
open  to  me.  Only  in  one  instance  was  I  compelled  to 
pursue  this  course  thereafter,  and  that  was  in  Manches- 
ter, N.  H.,  and  my  labors  there  were  followed  by  similar 
results.  When  people  found  that  I  would  be  heard,  they 
saw  it  was  the  part  of  wisdom  to  open  the  way  for  me. 

My  treatment  in  the  use  of  public  conveyances  about 
these  times  was  extremely  rough,  especially  on  the 
"  Eastern  Railroad,  from  Boston  to  Portland."  On  that 
road,  as  on  many  others,  there  was  a  mean,  dirty, 
and  uncomfortable  car  set  apart  for  colored  travelers 
called  the  "  Jim  Crow  "  car.  Regarding  this  as  the  fruit 
of  slaveholding  prejudice,  and  being  determined  to  fight 
the  spirit  of  slavery  wherever  I  might  find  it,  I  resolved 


to  avoid  this  car,  though  it  sometimes  required  some 
courage  to  do  so.  The  colored  people  generally  accepted 
the  situation,  and  complained  of  me  as  making  matters 
worse  rather  than  better  by  refusing  to  submit  to  this 
proscription.  I,  however,  persisted,  and  sometimes  was 
soundly  beaten  by  conductor  and  brakeman.  On  one  oc- 
casion six  of  these  "  fellows  of  the  baser  sort,"  under  the 
direction  of  the  conductor,  set  out  to  eject  me  from 
my  seat.  As  usual,  I  had  purchased  a  first-class  ticket 
and  paid  the  required  sum  for  it,  and  on  the  requirement 
of  the  conductor  to  leave  refused  to  do  so,  when  he  called 
on  these  men  to  "  snake  me  out."  They  attempted  to 
obey  with  an  air  which  plainly  told  me  they  relished  the 
job.  They  however  found  me  much  attached  to  my  seat, 
and  in  removing  me  I  tore  away  two  or  three  of  the  sur- 
rounding ones,  on  which  I  held  with  a  firm  grasp,  and  did 
the  car  no  service  in  some  other  respects.  I  was  strong 
and  muscular,  and  the  seats  were  not  then  so  firmly 
attached  or  of  as  solid  make  as  now.  The  result  was 
that  Stephen  A.  Chase,  superintendent  of  the  road, 
ordered  all  passenger  trains  to  pass  through  Lynn,  where 
I  then  lived,  without  stopping.  This  was  a  great  incon- 
venience to  the  people,  large  numbers  of  whom  did  busi- 
ness in  Boston  and  at  other  points  on  the  road.  Led  on, 
however,  by  James  N.  Buffum,  Jonathan  Buffum,  Chris- 
topher Robinson,  William  Bassett,  and  others,  the  people 
of  Lynn  stood  bravely  by  me,  and  denounced  the  railroad 
management  in  emphatic  terms.  Mr.  Chase  made  reply 
that  a  railroad  corporation  was  neither  a  religious  nor  re- 
formatory body ;  that  the  road  was  run  for  the  accommo- 
dation of  the  public,  and  that  it  required  the  exclusion  of 
colored  people  from  its  cars.  With  an  air  of  triumph  he 
told  us  that  we  ought  not  to  expect  a  railroad  company  to 
be  better  than  the  evangelical  church,  and  that  until  the 
churches    abolished   the    "  negro    pew "    we   ought   not 


to  expect  the  railroad  company  to  abolish  the  negro  car. 
This  argument  was  certainly  good  enough  as  against  the 
church,  but  good  for  nothing  as  against  the  demands 
of  justice  and  equality.  My  old  and  dear  friend  J.  N. 
Buffum  made  a  point  against  the  company  that  they 
"  often  allowed  dogs  and  monkeys  to  ride  in  first-class 
cars,  and  yet  excluded  a  man  like  Frederick  Douglass  ! " 
In  a  very  few  years  this  barbarous  practice  was  put  away, 
and  I  think  there  have  been  no  instances  of  such  exclu- 
sion during  the  past  thirty  years  ;  and  colored  people 
now,  everywhere  in  New  England,  ride  upon  equal  terms 
with  other  passengers. 



Anti-slavery  conventions  held  in  parts  of  New  England  and  in  some 
of  the  Middle  and  Western  States— Mobs — Incidents,  etc. 

THE  year  1843  was  one  of  remarkable  anti-slavery  ac- 
tivity. The  New  England  Anti-Slavery  Society,  at 
its  annual  meeting  held  in  the  spring  of  that  year,  resolved, 
under  the  auspices  of  Mr.  Garrison  and  his  friends,  to  hold 
a  series  of  one  hundred  conventions.  The  territory  embraced 
in  this  plan  for  creating  anti-slavery  sentiment  included 
New  Hampshire,  Vermont,  New  York,  Ohio,  Indiana,  and 
Pennsylvania.  I  had  the  honor  to  be  chosen  one  of  the 
agents  to  assist  in  these  proposed  conventions,  and  I  never 
entered  upon  any  work  with  more  heart  and  hope.  All 
that  the  American  people  needed,  I  thought,  was  light. 
Could  they  know  slavery  as  I  knew  it,  they  would  hasten 
to  the  work  of  its  extinction.  The  corps  of  speakers  who 
were  to  be  associated  with  me  in  carrying  on  these  con- 
ventions was  Messrs.  George  Bradburn,  John  A.  Collins, 
James  Monroe,  William  A.  White,  Charles  L.  Remond,  and 
Sydney  Howard  Gay.  They  were  all  masters  of  the  sub- 
ject, and  some  of  them  able  and  eloquent  orators.  It  was 
a  piece  of  great  good  fortune  to  me,  only  a  few  years 
from  slavery  as  I  was,  to  be  brought  into  contact  with 
such  men.  It  was  a  real  campaign,  and  required  nearly 
six  months  for  its  accomplishment. 

Those  who  only  know  the  State  of  Vermont  as  it  is  to- 
day can  hardly  understand,  and  must  wonder  that 
there  was  need  for  anti-slavery  effort  within  its  borders 
forty  years  ago.     Our  first  convention  was  held  in  Middle- 


FORTY   YEARS   AGO.  281 

bury,  its  chief  seat  of  learning  and  the  home  of  William 
Slade,  wlio  was  for  years  the  co-worker  with  John  Quincy 
Adams  in  Congress ;  and  yet  in  this  town  the  opposition 
to  our  anti-slavery  convention  was  intensely  bitter  and 
violent.  The  only  man  of  note  in  the  town  whom  I  now 
remember-  as  giving  us  sympathy  or  welcome  was  Mr. 
Edward  Barber,  who  was  a  man  of  courage  as  well  as 
ability,  and  did  his  best  to  make  our  convention  a  success. 
In  advance  of  our  arrival  the  college  students  had  very 
industriously  and  mischievously  placarded  the  town  with 
violent  aspersions  of  our  characters  and  the  grossest  mis- 
representations of  our  principles,  measures,  and  objects. 
I  was  described  as  an  escaped  convict  from  the  State 
prison,  and  the  other  speakers  were  assailed  not  less 
slanderously.  Few  people  attended  our  meeting,  and  ap- 
parently little  was  accomplished  by  it.  In  the  neighbor- 
ing town  of  Ferrisburgh  the  case  was  different  and  more 
favorable.  The  way  had  been  prepared  for  us  by  such 
stalwart  anti-slavery  workers  as  Orson  S.  Murray,  Charles 
C.  Burleigh,  Rowland  T.  Robinson,  and  others.  Upon 
the  whole,  however,  the  several  towns  visited  showed  that 
Vermont  was  surprisingly  under  the  influence  of  the  slave 
power.  Her  proud  boast  that  no  slave  had  ever  been 
delivered  up  to  his  master  within  her  borders  did  not 
hinder  her  hatred  to  anti-sloiYeYj,  What  was  true  of  the 
Green  Mountain  State  in  this  respect  was  most  discourag- 
ingly  true  of  New  York,  the  State  next  visited.  All 
along  the  Erie  canal,  from  Albany  to  Buffalo,  there  was 
apathy,  indifference,  aversion,  and  sometimes  mobocratic 
spirit  evinced.  Even  Syracuse,  afterward  the  home  of 
the  humane  Samuel  J.  May  and  the  scene  of  the  "  Jerry 
rescue,"  where  Gerrit  Smith,  Beriah  Greene,  William 
Goodell,  Alvin  Stewart,  and  other  able  men  since  taught 
their  noblest  lessons,  would  not  at  that  time  furnish 
us  with  church,  market,  house,  or  hall  in  which  to  hold 


our  meetings.  Discovering  this  state  of  things,  some  of 
our  number  were  disposed  to  turn  our  backs  upon  the  town 
and  shake  its  dust  from  our  feet,  but  of  these,  I  am  glad 
to  say,  I  was  not  one.  I  had  somewhere  read  of  a  com- 
mand to  go  into  the  hedges  and  highways  and  compel 
men  to  come  in.  Mr.  Stephen  Smith,  under  whose  hos- 
pitable roof  we  were  made  at  home,  thought  as  I  did.  It 
would  be  easy  to  silence  anti-slavery  agitation  if  refusing 
its  agents  the  use  of  halls  and  churches  could  affect  that 
result.  The  house  of  our  friend  Smith  stood  on  the 
southwest  corner  of  the  park,  which  was  well  covered 
with  young  trees  too  small  to  furnish  shade  or  shelter,  but 
better  than  none.  Taking  my  stand  under  a  small  tree 
in  the  southeast  corner  of  this  park  I  began  to  speak  in 
the  morning  to  an  audience  of  five  persons,  and  before  the 
close  of  my  afternoon  meeting  I  had  before  me  not  less 
than  five  hundred.  In  the  evening  I  was  waited  upon  by 
officers  of  the  Congregational  church  and  tendered  the 
use  of  an  old  wooden  building  which  they  had  deserted  for 
a  better,  but  still  owned,  and  here  our  convention  was 
continued  during  three  days.  I  believe  there  has  been  no 
trouble  to  find  places  in  Syracuse  in  which  to  hold  anti- 
slavery  meetings  since.  I  never  go  there  without  en- 
deavoring to  see  that  tree,  which,  like  the  cause  it 
sheltered,  has  grown  large  and  strong  and  imposing. 

I  believe  my  first  offense  against  our  Anti-Slavery 
Israel  was  committed  during  these  Syracuse  meetings. 
It  was  on  this  wise :  Our  general  agent,  John  A.  Collins, 
had  recently  returned  from  England  full  of  communistic 
ideas,  which  ideas  would  do  away  with  individual  prop- 
erty, and  have  all  things  in  common.  He  had  arranged 
a  corps  of  speakers  of  his  communistic  persuasion,  con- 
sisting of  John  0.  Wattles,  Nathaniel  Whiting,  and  John 
Orvis,  to  follow  our  anti-slavery  conventions,  and  while 
our  meeting  was  in  progress  in  Syracuse,  a  meeting,  as 



the  reader  will  observe,  obtained  under  much  difficulty, 
Mr.  Collins  came  in  with  his  new  friends  and  doctrines, 
and  proposed  to  adjourn  our  anti-slavery  discussions  and 
take  up  the  subject  of  communism.  To  this  I  ventured 
to  object.  I  held  that  it  was  imposing  an  additional 
burden  of  unpopularity  on  our  cause,  and  an  act  of  bad 
faith  with  the  people,  who  paid  tlie  salary  of  Mr.  Collins, 
and  were  responsible  for  these  hundred  conventions. 
Strange  to  say,  my  course  in  this  matter  did  not  meet 
the  approval  of  Mrs.  M.  W.  Chapman,  an  influential  mem- 
ber of  the  board  of  managers  of  the  Massachusetts  Anti- 
Slavery  Society,  and  called  out  a  sharp  reprimand  from 
her,  for  insubordination  to  my  superiors.  This  was  a 
strange  and  distressing  revelation  to  me,  and  one  of 
which  I  was  not  soon  relieved.  I  thought  I  had  only 
done  my  duty,  and  I  think  so  still.  The  chief  reason  for 
the  reprimand  was  the  use  which  the  liberty  party-papers 
would  make  of  my  seeming  rebellion  against  the  com- 
manders of  our  anti-slavery  army. 

In  the  growing  city  of  Rochester  we  had  in  every  way 
a  better  reception.  Abolitionists  of  all  shades  of  opinion 
were  broad  enough  to  give  tlie  Garrisonians  (for  such  we 
were)  a  hearing.  Samuel  D.  Porter  and  the  Avery 
family,  though  they  belonged  to  the  Gerrit  Smith,  Myron 
Holly,  and  William  Goodell  school,  were  not  so  narrow 
as  to  refuse  us  the  use  of  their  church  for  the  convention. 
They  heard  our  moral  suasion  arguments,  and  in  a  manly 
way  met  us  in  debate.  We  were  opposed  to  carrying  the 
anti-slavery  cause  to  the  ballot-box,  and  they  believed  in 
carrying  it  there.  They  looked  at  slavery  as  a  creature 
of  law ;  we  regarded  it  as  a  creature  of  public  opinion. 
It  is  surprising  how  small  the  difference  appears  as  I 
look  back  to  it,  over  the  space  of  forty  years  ;  yet  at  the 
time  of  it  this  difference  was  immense. 

During  our  stay  at  Rochester  we  were  hospitably  enter- 



taincd  by  Isaac  and  Amy  Post,  two  people  of  all-abound- 
ing benevolence,  the  truest  and  best  of  Long  Island  and 
Elias  Hicks  Quakers.  They  were  not  more  amiable  than 
brave,  for  they  never  seemed  to  ask,  What  will  the  world 
say  ?  but  walked  straight  forward  in  what  seemed  to  them 
the  line  of  duty,  please  or  offend  whomsoever  it  might. 
Many  a  poor  fugitive  slave  found  shelter  under  their  roof 
when  such  shelter  was  hard  to  find  elsewhere,  and  I  men- 
tion them  here  in  the  warmth  and  fullness  of  earnest 

Pleased  with  our  success  in  Rochester,  we — that  is,  Mr. 
Bradburn  and  myself — made  our  way  to  Buffalo,  then  a 
rising  city  of  steamboats,  bustle,  and  business.  Buffalo 
was  too  busy  to  attend  to  such  matters  as  we  had  in 
hand.  Our  friend,  Mr.  Marsh,  had  been  able  to  secure 
for  our  convention  only  an  old  dilapidated  and  deserted 
room,  formerly  used  as  a  post-office.  We  went  at  the 
time  appointed,  and  found  seated  a  few  cabmen  in  their 
coarse,  every-day  clothes,  wliips  in  hand,  while  their 
teams  were  standing  on  the  street  waiting  for  a  job. 
Friend  Bradburn  looked  around  upon  this  unpromising 
audience,  and  turned  upon  his  heel,  saying  he  would  not 
speak  to  "  such  a  set  of  ragamuffins,"  and  took  the  first 
steamer  to  Cleveland,  the  home  of  his  brother  Charles, 
and  left  me  to  "  do  "  Buffalo  alone.  For  nearly  a  week 
I  spoke  every  day  in  this  old  post-office  to  audiences 
constantly  increasing  in  numbers  and  respectability,  till 
the  Baptist  church  was  thrown  open  to  me ;  and  when 
this  became  too  small  I  went  on  Sunday  into  the  open 
Park  and  addressed  an  assembly  of  four  or  five  thousand 
persons.  After  this  my  colored  friends,  Charles  L.  Bc- 
mond,  Henry  Highland  Garnett,  Theodore  S.  Wright, 
Amos  G.  Beaman,  Charles  M.  Bay,  and  other  well-known 
colored  men  held  a  convention  here,  and  then  Bemond 
and  myself  left  for  our  next  meeting  in  Clinton  county, 

Fighting  the  Mob  in  Indiana. 

IN  INDIANA.  287 

Ohio.  This  was  held  under  a  great  shed,  built  by  the 
abolitionists,  of  whom  Dr.  Abram  Brook  and  Valentine 
Nicholson  were  the  most  noted,  for  this  special  purpose. 
Thousands  gathered  here  and  were  addressed  by  Brad- 
burn,  White,  Monroe,  Remond,  Gay,  and  myself.  The 
influence  of  this  meeting  was  deep  and  wide-spread.  It 
would  be  tedious  to  tell  of  all,  or  a  small  part  of  all  that 
was  interesting  and  illustrative  of  the  difficulties  encoun- 
tered by  the  early  advocates  of  anti-slavery  in  connection 
with  this  campaign,  and  hence  I  leave  this  part  of  it 
at  once. 

From  Ohio  we  divided  our  forces  and  went  into  Indi- 
ana. At  our  first  meeting  we  were  mobbed,  and  some  of 
us  got  our  good  clothes  spoiled  by  evil-smelling  eggs. 
This  was  at  Richmond,  where  Henry  Clay  had  been 
recently  invited  to  the  high  seat  of  the  Quaker  meeting- 
house just  after  his  gross  abuse  of  Mr.  Mendenhall, 
because  of  his  presenting  him  a  respectful  petition,  ask- 
ing him  to  emancipate  his  slaves.  At  Pendleton  this 
mobocratic  spirit  was  even  more  pronounced.  It  was 
found  impossible  to  obtain  a  building  in  which  to  hold 
our  convention,  and  our  friends.  Dr.  Fussell  and  others, 
erected  a  platform  in  the  woods,  where  quite  a  large 
audience  assembled.  Mr.  Bradburn,  Mr.  White,  and  my- 
self were  in  attendance.  As  soon  as  we  began  to  speak 
a  mob  of  about  sixty  of  the  roughest  characters  I  ever 
looked  upon  ordered  us,  through  its  leaders,  to  "  be 
silent,"  threatening  us,  if  we  were  not,  with  violence. 
We  attempted  to  dissuade  them,  but  they  had  not  come 
to  parley  but  to  fight,  and  were  well  armed.  They  tore 
down  the -platform  on  which  we  stood,  assaulted  Mr. 
White  and  knocked  out  several  of  his  teeth,  dealt  a 
heavy  blow  on  William  A.  White,  striking  him  on  the 
back  part  of  the  head,  badly  cutting  his  scalp  and  felling 
him  to  the  ground.    Undertaking  to  fight  my  way  through 


the  crowd  with  a  stick  which  I  caught  up  in  the  melde, 
I  attracted  the  fury  of  the  mob,  which  hiid  me  prostrate 
on  the  ground  under  a  torrent  of  blows.  Leaving  me 
thus,  with  my  right  hand  broken,  and  in  a  state  of  uncon- 
sciousness, the  mobocrats  hastily  mounted  their  horses 
and  rode  to  Andersonville,  where  most  of  them  resided. 
I  was  soon  raised  up  and  revived  by  Neal  Hardy,  a  kind- 
hearted  member  of  the  Society  of  Friends,  and  carried  by 
him  in  his  wagon  about  three  miles  in  tlie  country  to  his 
home,  where  I  was  tenderly  nursed  ajid  bandaged  by 
good  Mrs.  Hardy  till  I  was  again  on  my  feet ;  but,  as  the 
bones  broken  were  not  properly  set,  my  hand  has  never 
recovered  its  natural  strength  and  dexterity.  We 
lingered  long  in  Indiana,  and  the  good  effects  of  our 
labors  there  are  felt  at  this  day.  I  have  lately  visited 
Pendleton,  now  one  of  the  best  republican  towns  in  the 
State,  and  looked  again  upon  the  spot  where  I  was  beaten 
down,  and  have  again  taken  by  the  hand  some  of  the 
witnesses  of  that  scene,  amongst  whom  was  the  kind, 
good  lady — Mrs.  Hardy —  who,  so  like  the  good  Sama- 
ritan of  old,  bound  up  my  wounds,  and  cared  for  me  so 
kindly.  A  complete  history  of  these  hundred  conventions 
would  fill  a  volume  far  larger  than  the  one  in  which  this 
simple  reference  is  to  find  a  place.  It  would  be  a  grate- 
ful duty  to  speak  of  the  noble  young  men  who  forsook 
ease  and  pleasure,  as  did  White,  Gay,  and  Monroe,  and 
endured  all  manner  of  privations  in  the  cause  of  the  en- 
slaved and  down-trodden  of  my  race.  Gay,  Monroe,  and 
myself  are  the  only  ones  who  participated  as  agents  in 
the  one  hundred  conventions  who  now  survive.  Mr.  Mon- 
roe was  for  many  years  consul  to  Brazil,  and  has  since 
been  a  faithful  member  of  Congress  from  the  Oberlin 
District,  Ohio,  and  has  filled  other  important  positions  in 
his  State.  Mr.  Gay  was  managing  editor  of  the  National 
Anti-Slavery  Standard^  and  afterwards  of  the  New  York 
Tribune^  and  still  later  of  the  New  York  Evening  Post, 



Danger  to  be  averted — A  refuge  sought  abroad — Voyage  on  the  steam- 
ship Cambria — Refusal  of  first-class  passage — Attractions  of  the 
forecastle-deck — Hutchinson  family — Invited  to  make  a  speech — 
Southerners  feel  insulted — Captain  threatens  to  put  them  in  irons 
— Experiences  abroad — Attentions  received — Impressions  of  differ- 
ent members  of  Parliament  and  of  other  public  men — Contrast 
with  life  in  America — Kindness  of  friends — Their  purchase  of  my 
person  and  the  gift  of  the  same  to  myself — My  return. 

AS  I  have  before  intimated,  the  publishing  of  my 
"  Narrative "  was  regarded  by  my  friends  with 
mingled  feelings  of  satisfaction  and  apprehension.  They 
were  glad  to  have  the  doubts  and  insinuations  which  the 
advocates  and  apologists  of  slavery  had  made  against  me 
proved  to  the  world  to  be  false,  but  they  had  many  fears 
lest  this  very  proof  would  endanger  my  safety,  and  make 
it  necessary  for  me  to  leave  a  position  which  in  a  signal 
manner  had  opened  before  me,  and  one  in  which  I  had 
thus  far  been  efficient  in  assisting  to  arouse  the  moral 
sentiment  of  the  community  against  a  system  which  had 
deprived  me,  in  common  with  my  fellow-slaves,  of  all  the 
attributes  of  manhood. 

I  became  myself  painfully  alive  to  the  liability  which 
surrounded  me,  and  which  might  at  any  moment  scatter 
all  my  proud  hopes  and  return  me  to  a  doom  worse  than 
death.  It  was  thus  I  was  led  to  seek  a  refuge  in  mon- 
archical England  from  the  dangers  of  republican  slavery. 
A  rude,  uncultivated  fugitive  slave,  I  was  driven  to  that 
country  to  which  American  young  gentlemen  go  to 
increase  their  stock  of  knowledge,  to  seek  pleasure,  and 



to  have  their  rough  democratic  manners  softened  by  con- 
tact with  English  aristocratic  refinement. 

My  friend  James  N.  Buft'um  of  Lynn,  Mass.,  who  was  to 
accompany  me,  applied  on  board  the  steamer  Cambria  of 
the  Cimard  line  for  tickets,  and  was  told  that  I  could  not 
be  received  as  a  cabin  passenger.  American  prejudice 
against  color  had  triumphed  over  British  liberality  and 
civilization,  and  had  erected  a  color  test  as  condition  for 
crossing  the  sea  in  the  cabin  of  a  British  vessel. 

The  insult  was  keenly  felt  by  my  white  friends,  but  to 
me  such  insults  were  so  frequent  and  expected  that  it  was 
of  no  great  consequence  whether  I  went  in  the  cabin  or  in 
the  steerage.  Moreover,  I  felt  that  if  I  could  not  go 
in  the  first  cabin,  first  cabin  passengers  could  come  in  the 
second  cabin,  and  in  this  thought  I  was  not  mistaken,  as 
I  soon  found  myself  an  object  of  more  general  interest 
than  I  wished  to  be,  and,  so  far  from  being  degraded  by 
being  placed  in  the  second  cabin,  that  part  of  the  ship 
became  the  scene  of  as  much  pleasure  and  refinement  as 
the  cabin  itself.  The  Hutchinson  family  from  New 
Hampshire — the  sweet  singers  of  anti-slavery  and  the 
"  good  time  coming  " — were  fellow-passengers,  and  often 
came  to  my  rude  forecastle-deck  and  sang  their  sweetest 
songs,  making  the  place  eloquent  with  music  and  alive 
with  spirited  conversation.  Tliey  not  only  visited  me, 
but  invited  me  to  visit  them,  and  in  two  or  three 
days  after  leaving  Boston  one  part  of  the  ship  was  about 
as  free  to  me  as  another.  My  visits  there,  however,  were 
but  seldom.  I  preferred  to  live  within  my  privileges  and 
keep  upon  my  own  premises.  This  course  was  quite 
as  much  in  accord  with  good  policy  as  with  my  own  feel- 
ings. The  effect  was  that  with  the  majority  of  the  pas- 
sengers all  color  distinctions  were  flung  to  the  winds,  and 
I  found  myself  treated  with  every  mark  of  respect  from  the 
beginning  to  the  end  of  the  voyage,  except  in  one  single 


instance,  and  in  that  I  came  near  being  mobbed  for  com- 
plying with  an  invitation  given  me  by  the  passengers  and 
the  captain  of  the  Cambria  to  deliver  a  lecture  on  slavery. 
There  were  several  young  men,  passengers  from  Georgia 
and  New  Orleans,  and  they  were  pleased  to  regard  my  lec- 
ture as  an  insult  offered  to  them,  and  swore  I  should  not 
speak.  They  went  so  far  as  to  threaten  to  throw  me 
overboard,  and  but  for  the  firmness  of  Captain  Judkins 
they  would  probably,  under  the  inspiration  of  slavery  and 
brandy,  have  attempted  to  put  their  threats  into  execution. 
I  have  no  space  to  describe  this  scene,  although  its  tragic 
and  comic  features  are  well  worth  describing.  An  end 
was  put  to  the  melee  by  the  captain's  call  to  the  ship's 
company  to  put  the  salt-water  mobocrats  in  irons,  at 
which  determined  order  the  gentlemen  of  the  lash  scam- 
pered, and  for  the  remainder  of  the  voyage  conducted 
themselves  very  decorously. 

This  incident  of  the  voyage  brought  me  within  two 
days  after  landing  at  Liverpool  before  the  British  public. 
The  gentlemen  so  promptly  withheld  in  their  attempted 
violence  toward  me  flew  to  the  press  to  justify  their  con- 
duct and  to  denounce  me  as  a  worthless  and  insolent 
negro.  This  course  was  even  less  wise  than  the  conduct 
it  was  intended  to  sustain,  for,  besides  awakening  some- 
thing like  a  national  interest  in  me,  and  securing  me  an 
audience,  it  brought  out  counter  statements  and  threw  the 
blame  upon  themselves  which  they  had  sought  to  fasten 
upon  me  and  the  gallant  captain  of  the  ship. 

My  visit  to  England  did  much  for  me  every  way.  Not 
the  least  among  the  many  advantages  derived  from  it  was 
in  the  opportunity  it  afforded  me  of  becoming  acquainted 
with  educated  people  and  of  seeing  and  hearing  many  of 
the  most  distinguished  men  of  that  country.  My  friend  Mr. 
Wendell  Phillips,  knowing  something  of  my  appreciation 
of  orators   and   oratory,  had  said  to  me  before  leaving 

292  COBDEN    AND    BRIGHT. 

Boston:  "Although  Americans  are  generally  better 
speakers  than  Englishmen,  you  will  find  in  England  indi- 
vidual orators  superior  to  the  best  of  ours."  I  do  not 
know  that  Mr.  Phillips  w^as  quite  just  to  himself  in  this 
remark,  for  I  found  few,  if  any,  superior  to  him  in 
the  gift  of  speech.  When  I  went  to  England  that  country 
was  in  the  midst  of  a  tremendous  agitation.  The  people 
were  divided  by  tw^o  great  questions  of  "  Repeal " — the 
repeal  of  the  corn  laws  and  the  repeal  of  the  union 
between  England  and  Ireland. 

Debate  ran  high  in  Parliament  and  among  the  people 
everywhere,  especially  concerning  the  corn  laws.  Two 
powerful  interests  of  the  country  confronted  each  other — 
one  venerable  from  age,  and  the  other  young,  stalwart, 
and  growing.  Both  strove  for  ascendancy.  Conservatism 
united  for  retaining  the  corn  laws,  while  the  rising  power 
of  commerce  and  manufactures  demanded  repeal.  It  was 
interest  against  interest,  but  something  more  and  deeper, 
for  while  there  was  aggrandizement  of  the  landed  aristoc- 
racy on  the  one  side,  there  was  famine  and  pestilence  on 
the  other.  Of  the  anti-corn-law  movement  Richard 
Cobden  and  John  Bright,  both  then  members  of  Parlia- 
ment, were  the  leaders.  They  were  the  rising  statesmen 
of  England,  and  possessed  a  very  friendly  disposition 
toward  America.  Mr.  Bright,  who  is  now  Right  Honor- 
able John  Bright,  and  occupies  a  high  place  in  the  British 
cabinet,  was  friendly  to  the  loyal  and  progressive  spirit 
which  abolished  our  slavery  and  saved  our  country  from 
dismemberment.  I  have  seen  and  heard  both  of  these 
men,  and,  if  I  may  be  allowed  so  much  egotism,  I  may  say 
I  was  acquainted  with  both  of  them.  I  was,  besides, 
a  welcome  guest  at  the  house  of  Mr.  Bright  in  Rochdale, 
and  treated  as  a  friend  and  brother  among  his  brothers 
and  sisters.  Messrs.  Cobden  and  Bright  were  well- 
matched  leaders.     One  was  in  large  measure  the  comple- 


ment  of  the  other.  They  were  spoken  of  usually  as 
Cobden  and  Bright,  but  there  was  no  reason,  except  that 
Cobden  was  the  elder  of  the  two,  why  their  names  might 
not  have  been  reversed. 

They  were  about  equally  fitted  for  their  respective  parts 
in  the  great  movement  of  which  they  were  the  distin- 
guished leaders,  and  neither  was  likely  to  encroach  upon 
the  work  of  the  other.  The  contrast  was  quite  marked  in 
their  persons  as  well  as  in  their  oratory.  The  powerful 
speeches  of  the  one,  as  they  traveled  together  over  the 
country,  heightened  the  effect  of  the  speeches  of  the 
other,  so  that  their  difference  was  about  as  effective  for 
good  as  was  their  agreement.  Mr.  Cobden — for  an 
Englishman  —  was  lean,  tall,  and  slightly  sallow,  and 
might  have  been  taken  for  an  American  or  Frenchman. 
Mr.  Bright  was,  in  the  broadest  sense,  an  Englishman, 
abounding  in  all  the  physical  perfections  peculiar  to  his 
countrymen — full,  round,  and  ruddy.  Cobden  had  dark 
eyes  and  hair,  a  well-formed  head  high  above  his  shoul- 
ders, and,  when  sitting  quiet,  had  a  look  of  sadness  and 
fatigue.  In  the  House  of  Commons  he  often  sat  with  one 
hand  supporting  his  head.  Bright  appeared  the  very  op- 
posite in  this  and  other  respects.  His  eyes  were  blue,  his 
hair  light,  his  head  massive  and  firmly  set  upon  his 
shoulders,  suggesting  immense  energy  and  determination. 
In  his  oratory  Mr.  Cobden  was  cool,  candid,  deliberate, 
straightforward,  yet  at  times  slightly  hesitating.  Bright, 
on  the  other  hand,  was  fervid,  fluent,  rapid ;  always  ready 
in  thought  or  word.  Mr.  Cobden  was  full  of  facts  and 
figures,  dealing  in  statistics  by  the  hour.  Mr.  Bright  was 
full  of  wit,  knowledge,  and  pathos,  and  possessed  amazing 
power  of  expression.  One  spoke  to  the  cold,  calculating 
side  of  the  British  nation,  which  asks  "if  the  new 
idea  will  pay  ? "  The  other  spoke  to  the  infinite  side  of 
human   nature — the   side   which  asks,   first   of  all,  "  Is 


it  right  ?  is  it  just  ?  is  it  humane  ? "  Wherever  these 
two  great  men  appeared  the  people  assembled  in  thou- 
sands. They  could,  at  an  hour's  notice,  pack  the  Town 
Hall  of  Birmingham,  which  would  hold  seven  thousand 
persons,  or  the  Free  Trade  Hall  in  Manchester,  and  Covent 
Garden  theater,  London,  each  of  which  was  capable  of 
holding  eight  thousand. 

One  of  the  first  attentions  shown  me  by  these  gentle- 
men was  to  make  me  welcome  at  the  Free-Trade  Club,  in 

I  was  not  long  in  England  before  a  crisis  was  reached 
in  the  anti-corn-law  movement.  The  announcement  that 
Sir  Robert  Peel,  then  prime  minister  of  England,  had  be- 
come a  convert  to  the  views  of  Messrs.  Cobden  and 
Bright,  came  upon  the  country  with  startling  effect,  and 
formed  the  turning-point  in  the  anti-corn-law  question. 
Sir  Robert  had  been  the  strong  defense  of  the  landed 
aristocracy  of  England,  and  his  defection  left  them  with- 
out a  competent  leader ;  and  just  here  came  the  opportu- 
nity for  Mr.  Benjamin  Disraeli,  the  Hebrew,  since  Lord 
Beaconsfield.  To  him  it  was  in  public  affairs  the  "  tide 
which  led  on  to  fortune."  With  a  bitterness  unsurpassed 
he  had  been  denounced,  by  reason  of  his  being  a  Jew,  as  a 
lineal  descendant  of  the  thief  on  the  cross.  But  now  his 
time  had  come,  and  he  was  not  the  man  to  permit 
it  to  pass  unimproved.  For  the  first  time,  it  seems,  he 
conceived  the  idea  of  placing  himself  at  the  head  of  a  great 
party,  and  thus  become  the  chief  defender  of  the  landed 
aristocracy.  The  way  was  plain.  He  was  to  transcend 
all  others  in  effective  denunciation  of  Sir  Robert  Peel,  and 
surpass  all  others  in  zeal.  His  ability  was  equal  to 
the  situation,  and  the  world  knows  the  result  of  his  ambi- 
tion. I  watched  him  narrowly  when  I  saw  him  in  the 
House  of  Commons,  but  I  saw  and  heard  nothing  there 
that  foreshadowed  the  immense  space  he  at  last  came  to 


fill  in  the  mind  of  his  country  and  the  world.  He  had 
nothing  of  the  grace  and  warmth  of  Peel  in  debate,  and 
his  speeches  were  better  in  print  than  when  listened  to ; 
yet  when  he  spoke  all  eyes  were  fixed  and  all  ears  attent. 
Despite  all  his  ability  and  power,  however,  as  the  defend- 
er of  the  landed  interests  of  England,  his  cause  was 
already  lost.  The  increasing  power  of  the  anti-corn-law 
league,  the  burden  of  the  tax  upon  bread,  the  cry  of  dis- 
tress coming  from  famine-stricken  Ireland,  and  the  ad- 
hesion of  Peel  to  the  views  of  Cobden  and  Bright,  made 
the  repeal  of  the  corn  laws  speedy  and  certain. 

The  repeal  of  the  union  between  England  and  Ireland 
was  not  so  fortunate.  It  is  still,  under  one  name  or  an- 
other, the  cherished  hope  and  inspiration  of  her  sons.  It 
stands  little  better  or  stronger  than  it  did  six  and  thirty 
years  ago,  when  its  greatest  advocate,  Daniel  O'Connell, 
welcomed  me  to  Ireland  and  to  "  Conciliation  Hall,"  and 
where  I  first  liad  a  specimen  of  his  truly  wondrous  elo- 
quence. Until  I  heard  this  man  I  had  thought  that  the 
story  of  his  oratory  and  power  were  greatly  exaggerated. 
I  did  not  see  how  a  man  could  speak  to  twenty  or  thirty 
thousand  people  at  one  time  and  be  heard  by  any  consid- 
erable portion  of  them,  but  the  mystery  was  solved  when 
I  saw  his  vast  person  and  heard  his  musical  voice.  His 
eloquence  came  down  upon  the  vast  assembly  like  a  sum- 
mer thunder-shower  upon  a  dusty  road.  He  could  stir 
the  multitude  at  will  to  a  tempest  of  wrath  or  reduce  it  to 
the  silence  with  which  a  mother  leaves  the  cradle-side  of 
her  sleeping  babe.  Such  tenderness,  such  pathos,  such 
world-embracing  love  ! — and,  on  the  other  hand,  such  in- 
dignation, such  fiery  and  thunderous  denunciation,  such 
wit  and  humor,  I  never  heard  surpassed,  if  equaled,  at  home 
or  abroad.  He  held  Ireland  within  the  grasp  of  his 
strong  hand,  and  could  lead  it  whithersoever  he  would, 
for  Ireland  believed  in  him  and  loved  him  as  she  has 

296  0.  A.  BROWNSON. 

loved  and  believed  in  no  leader  since.  In  Dublin,  when 
he  had  been  absent  from  that  city  a  few  weeks,  I  saw  him 
followed  through  Sackville  street  by  a  multitude  of  little 
boys  and  girls,  shouting  in  loving  accents,  "  There 
goes  Dan !  there  goes  Dan ! "  while  he  looked  at  the 
ragged  and  shoeless  crowd  with  the  kindly  air  of  a  loving 
parent  returning  to  his  gleeful  children.  He  was  called 
*'  The  Liberator,"  and  not  without  cause,  for,  though  he 
failed  to  effect  the  repeal  of  the  union  between  England 
and  Ireland,  he  fought  out  the  battle  of  Catholic  eman- 
cipation, and  was  clearly  the  friend  of  liberty  the  world 
over.  In  introducing  me  to  an  immense  audience  in 
Conciliation  Hall  he  playfully  called  me  the  "  Black  0' Cou- 
ncil of  the  United  States."  Nor  did  he  let  the  occasion 
pass  without  his  usual  word  of  denunciation  of  our  slave 
system.  0.  A.  Brownson  had  then  recently  become  a 
Catholic,  and  taking  advantage  of  his  new  Catholic  audi- 
ence in  "  Brownson's  Beview,^^  had  charged  O'Connell 
with  attacking  American  institutions.  In  reply  Mr. 
O'Connell  said :  "  I  am  charged  with  attacking  American 
institutions,  as  slavery  is  called ;  I  am  not  ashamed 
of  this  attack.  My  sympathy  is  not  confined  to  the  nar- 
row limits  of  my  own  green  Ireland  ;  my  spirit  walks 
abroad  upon  sea  and  land,  and  wherever  there  is  oppres- 
sion I  hate  the  oppressor,  and  wherever  the  tyrant  rears 
his  head  I  will  deal  my  bolts  upon  it,  and  wherever  there 
is  sorrow  and  suffering,  there  is  my  spirit  to  succor  and 
relieve."  No  transatlantic  statesman  bore  a  testimony 
more  marked  and  telling  against  the  crime  and  curse  of 
slavery  than  did  Daniel  O'Connell.  He  would  shake  the 
hand  of  no  slaveholder,  nor  allow  himself  to  be  introduced 
to  one  if  he  knew  him  to  be  such.  When  the  friends  of 
repeal  in  the  Southern  States  sent  him  money  with  which 
to  carry  on  his  work,  he,  with  ineffable  scorn,  refused  the 
bribe  and  sent  back  what  he  considered  the  blood-stained 


offering,  saying  he  would  "  never  purchase  the  freedom  of 
Ireland  with  the  price  of  slaves." 

It  was  not  long  after  my  seeing  Mr.  O'Connell  that  his 
health  broke  down,  and  his  career  ended  in  death.  I 
felt  that  a  great  champion  of  freedom  had  fallen,  and  that 
the  cause  of  the  American  slave,  not  less  than  the  cause 
of  his  country,  had  met  with  a  great  loss.  All  the  more 
was  this  felt  when  I  saw  the  kind  of  men  who  came  to 
the  front  when  the  voice  of  O'Connell  was  no  longer 
heard  in  Ireland.  He  was  succeeded  by  the  Duffys, 
Mitchells,  Meagher,  and  others, — men  who  loved  liberty 
for  themselves  and  their  country,  but  were  utterly  desti- 
tute of  sympathy  with  the  cause  of  liberty  in  countries 
other  than  their  own.  One  of  the  first  utterances  of 
John  Mitchell  on  reaching  this  country,  from  his  exile 
and  bondage,  was  a  wish  for  a  "  slave  plantation,  well 
stocked  with  slaves." 

Besides  hearing  Cobden,  Bright,  Peel,  Disraeli,  O'Con- 
nell, Lord  John  Russell,  and  other  Parliamentary  debaters, 
it  was  my  good  fortune  to  hear  Lord  Brougham  when 
nearly  at  his  best.  He  was  then  a  little  over  sixty,  and 
that  for  a  British  statesman  is  not  considered  old  ;  and 
in  his  case  there  were  thirty  years  of  life  still  before 
him.  He  struck  me  as  the  most  wonderful  speaker  of 
them  all.  How  he  was  ever  reported  I  cannot  imagine. 
Listening  to  him  was  like  standing  near  the  track  of  a 
railway  train,  drawn  by  a  locomotive  at  the  rate  of  forty 
miles  an  hour.  You  were  riveted  to  the  spot,  charmed 
with  the  sublime  spectacle  of  speed  and  power,  but  could 
give  no  description  of  the  carriages,  nor  of  the  passengers 
at  the  windows.  There  was  so  much  to  see  and  hear, 
and  so  little  time  left  the  beholder  and  hearer  to  note 
particulars,  that  when  this  strange  man  sat  down  you 
felt  like  one  who  had  hastily  passed  through  the  wilder- 
ing  wonders  of  a  world's  exhibition.     On  the  occasion  of 


my  listening  to  liim,  his  speech  was  on  the  postal  rela- 
tions of  England  with  the  outside  world,  and  he  seemed 
to  have  a  i)ei*fect  knowledge  of  the  postal  arrangements 
of  every  nation  in  Europe,  and,  indeed,  in  the  whole  uni- 
verse. He  possessed  the  great  advantage,  so  valuable  to 
a  Parliamentary  debater,  of  being  able  to  make  all  inter- 
ruptions serve  the  purpose  of  his  thought  and  speech, 
and  carry  on  a  dialogue  with  several  persons  without 
interrupting  tlie  rapid  current  of  his  reasoning.  I  had 
more  curiosity  to  see  and  hear  this  man  than  any  other 
in  England,  and  he  more  than  fulfilled  my  expectations. 

While  in  England,  I  saw  few  literary  celebrities,  except 
William  and  Mary  Howitt,  and  Sir  John  Bowering.  I 
was  invited  to  breakfast  by  the  latter  in  company  with 
Wm.  Lloyd  Garrison,  and  spent  a  delightful  morning 
with  him,  chiefly  as  a  listener  to  their  conversation.  Sir 
John  was  a  poet,  a  statesman,  and  a  diplomat,  and  had 
represented  England  as  minister  to  China.  He  was  full  of 
interesting  information,  and  had  a  charming  way  of  impart- 
ing his  knowledge.  The  conversation  was  about  slavery  and 
about  China,  and  as  my  knowledge  was  very  slender  about 
the  "  Flowery  Kingdom  "  and  its  people,  I  was  greatly  inter- 
ested in  Sir  John's  description  of  the  ideas  and  manners 
prevailing  among  them.  According  to  him,  the  doctrine 
of  substitution  was  carried  so  far  in  that  country  that 
men  sometimes  procured  others  to  suffer  even  the  penalty 
of  death  in  their  stead.  Justice  seemed  not  intent  upon 
the  punishment  of  the  actual  criminal,  if  only  somebody 
was  punished  when  the  law  was  violated. 

William  and  Mary  Howitt  were  among  the  kindliest 
people  I  ever  met.  Their  interest  in  America,  and  their 
well-known  testimonies  against  slavery,  made  me  feel 
much  at  home  with  them  at  their  house  in  that  part  of 
London  known  as  Clapham.  Whilst  stopping  here,  I  met 
the  Swedish  poet  and  author — Hans  Christian  Andersen. 

GEORGE    COMBE.  299 

He,  like  myself,  was  a  guest,  spending  a  few  days.  I 
saw  but  little  of  him  though  under  the  same  roof.  He 
was  singular  in  his  appearance,  and  equally  singular  in 
his  silence.  His  mind  seemed  to  me  all  the  while  turned 
inwardly.  He  walked  about  the  beautiful  garden  as  one 
might  in  a  dream.  The  Hewitts  had  translated  his  works 
into  English,  and  could  of  course  address  him  in  his  own 
language.  Possibly  his  bad  English,  and  my  destitution 
of  Swedish,  may  account  for  the  fact  of  our  mutual 
silence,  and  yet  I  observed  he  was  much  the  same  towards 
every  one.  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Howitt  were  indefatigable 
writers.  Two  more  industrious  and  kind-hearted  people 
did  not  breathe.  With  all  their  literary  work,  they 
always  had  time  to  devote  to  strangers,  and  to  all  benevo- 
lent efforts  to  ameliorate  the  condition  of  the  poor  and 
needy.  Quakers  though  they  were,  they  took  deep 
interest  in  the  Hutchinsons — Judson,  John,  Asa,  and 
Abby — who  were  much  at  their  house  during  my  stay 
there.  Mrs.  Howitt  not  inaptly  styled  them  a  "  Band  of 
young  apostles.^^  They  sang  for  the  oppressed  and  the 
poor — for  liberty  and  humanity. 

Whilst  in  Edinburgh,  so  famous  for  its  beauty,  its 
educational  institutions,  its  literary  men,  and  its  history, 
I  had  a  very  intense  desire  gratified — and  that  was  to  see 
and  converse  with  George  Combe,  the  eminent  mental 
philosopher,  and  author  of  "  Combe's  Constitution  of 
Man,"  a  book  which  had  been  placed  in  my  hands  a  few 
years  before,  by  Doctor  Peleg  Clark  of  Rhode  Island,  the 
reading  of  which  had  relieved  my  path  of  many  shadows. 
In  company  with  George  Thompson,  James  N.  Buffum, 
and  William  L.  Garrison,  I  had  the  honor  to  be  invited 
by  Mr.  Combe  to  breakfast,  and  the  occasion  was  one  of 
the  most  delightful  I  met  in  dear  old  Scotland.  Of  course, 
in  tlie  presence  of  such  men,  my  part  was  a  very  subordi- 
nate one.    I  was  a  listener.    Mr.  Combe  did  the  most  of  the 


talking,  and  did  it  so  well  that  nobody  felt  like  interposing 
a  word,  except  so  far  as  to  draw  him  on.  He  discussed  the 
corn  laws,  and  the  proposal  to  reduce  the  hours  of  labor. 
He  looked  at  all  political  and  social  questions  through 
his  peculiar  mental  science.  His  manner  was  remarkably 
quiet,  and  he  spoke  as  not  expecting  opposition  to  his 
views.  Phrenology  explained  everything  to  him,  from 
the  finite  to  the  infinite.  I  look  back  to  the  morning 
spent  with  this  singularly  clear-headed  man  with  much 

It  would  detain  the  reader  too  long,  and  make  this 
volume  too  large,  to  tell  of  the  many  kindnesses  shown 
me  while  abroad,  or  even  to  mention  all  the  great  and 
noteworthy  persons  who  gave  me  a  friendly  hand  and  a 
cordial  welcome ;  but  there  is  one  other,  now  long  gone 
to  his  rest,  of  whom  a  few  words  must  be  spoken,  and 
that  one  was  Thomas  Clarkson — the  last  of  the  noble  line 
of  Englishmen  who  inaugurated  tlie  anti-slavery  move- 
ment for  England  and  the  civilized  world — the  life-long 
friend  and  co-worker  with  Granville  Sharpe,  William 
Wilberforce,  Thomas  Fowell  Buxton,  and  other  leaders 
in  that  great  reform  which  nearly  put  an  end  to  slavery 
in  all  parts  of  the  globe.  As  in  the  case  of  George 
Combe,  I  went  to  see  Mr.  Clarkson  in  company  with 
Messrs.  Garrison  and  Thompson.  They  had  by  note 
advised  him  of  our  coming,  and  had  received  one  in 
reply,  bidding  us  welcome.  We  found  the  venerable 
object  of  our  visit  seated  at  a  table  where  he  had  been 
busily  writing  a  letter  to  America  against  slavery  ;  for 
though  in  his  eighty-seventh  year,  he  continued  to  write. 
When  we  were  presented  to  him,  he  rose  to  receive  us. 
The  scene  was  impressive.  It  was  the  meeting  of  two 
centuries.  Garrison,  Thompson,  and  myself  were  young 
men.  After  shaking  hands  with  my  two  distinguished 
friends,  and  giving  them  welcome,  he  took   one   of  my 

author's  reflections.  801 

liands  ill  both  of  his,  and,  in  a  tremulous  voice,  said, 
"  God  bless  you,  Frederick  Douglass !  I  have  given 
sixty  years  of  my  life  to  the  emancipation  of  your 
people,  and  if  I  had  sixty  years  more  they  should  all  be 
given  to  the  same  cause."  O^ir  stay  was  short  with  this 
great-hearted  old  man.  He  was  feeble,  and  our  presence 
greatly  excited  him,  and  we  left  the  house  with  something 
of  the  feeling  with  which  a  man  takes  final  leave  of  a 
beloved  friend  at  the  edge  of  the  grave. 

Some  notion  may  be  formed  of  the  difference  in  my 
feelings  and  circumstances  while  abroad,  from  an  extract 
from  one  of  a  series  of  letters  addressed  by  me  to  Mr. 
Garrison,  and  published  in  the  Liberator,  It  was  written 
on  the  1st  day  of  January,  1864  : 

"  My  Bear  Friend  Garnson : 

"Up  to  this  time,  I  have  given  no  direct  expression  of  the  views, 
feelings,  and  opinions  which  I  have  formed  respecting  the  cliaracter 
and  condition  of  the  people  of  this  land.  I  have  refrained  thus  pur- 
posely. I  wish  to  speak  advisedly,  and  in  order  to  do  this,  I  have 
waited  till,  I  trust,  experience  has  brought  my  opinion  to  an  intelli- 
gent maturity,  I  have  been  thus  careful,  not  because  I  think  what  I 
say  will  have  much  effect  in  shaping  the  opinions  of  the  world,  but 
because  what  influence  I  may  possess,  whether  little  or  much,  I  wish 
to  go  in  the  right  direction,  and  according  to  truth.  I  hardly  need 
say  that  in  speaking  of  Ireland  I  shall  be  influenced  by  no  prejudices 
in  favor  of  America.  I  think  my  circumstances  all  forbid  that.  I 
have  no  end  to  serve,  no  creed  to  uphold,  no  government  to  defend ; 
and  as  to  nation,  I  belong  to  none.  I  have  no  protection  at  home,  or 
resting-place  abroad.  The  land  of  my  birth  welcomes  me  to  her 
shores  only  as  a  slave,  and  spurns  with  contempt  the  idea  of  treating 
me  differently;  so  that  I  am  an  outcast  from  the  society  of  my  child- 
hood, and  an  outlaw  in  the  land  of  my  birth.  '  I  am  a  stranger  with 
thee  and  a  sojourner,  as  all  my  fathers  were.'  That  men  should  be 
patriotic,  is  to  me  perfectly  natural ;  and  as  a  philosophical  fact,  I  am 
able  to  give  it  an  intellectual  recognition.  But  no  further  can  I  go. 
If  ever  I  had  any  patriotism,  or  any  capacity  for  the  feeling,  it  was 
whipped  out  of  me  long  since  by  the  lash  of  the  American  soul- 
drivers.  In  thinking  of  America,  I  sometimes  find  myself  admiring 
her  bright  blue  sky,  her  grand  old  woods,  her  fertile  fields,  her  beau- 
tiful rivers,  her  mighty  lakes,  and  star-crowned  mountains.     But  my 


rapture  is  soon  checked — my  joy  is  soon  turned  to  mourning.  "When 
I  remember  that  all  is  cursed  with  the  infernal  spirit  of  slaveholding, 
robbery,  and  wrong  ;  when  I  remember  that  with  the  waters  of  her 
noblest  rivers  the  tears  of  my  brethren  are  borne  to  the  ocean,  disre- 
garded and  forgotten,  and  that  her  most  fertile  fields  drink  daily  of 
the  warm  blood  of  my  outraged  sisters,  I  am  filled  with  unutterable 
loathing,  and  led  to  reproach  myself  that  anything  could  fall  from 
my  lips  in  praise  of  such  a  land.  America  will  not  allow  her  children 
to  love  her.  She  seems  bent  on  compelling  those  who  would  be  her 
warmest  friends  to  be  her  worst  enemies.  May  God  give  her  repent- 
ance before  it  is  too  late,  is  the  ardent  prayer  of  my  heart.  I  will 
continue  to  pray,  labor,  and  wait,  believing  that  she  cannot  always 
be  insensible  to  the  dictates  of  justice,  or  deaf  to  the  voice  of  human- 
ity. My  opportunities  for  learning  the  character  and  condition  of  the 
people  of  this  land  have  been  very  great.  I  have  traveled  from  the 
Hill  of  Howth  to  the  Giant's  Causeway,  and  from  the  Giant's  Cause- 
way to  Cape  Clear.  During  these  travels  I  have  met  with  much  in  the 
character  and  condition  of  the  people  to  approve,  and  much  to  condemn ; 
much  that  has  thrilled  me  with  pleasure,  and  much  that  has  filled  me 
with  pain.  I  will  not,  in  this  letter,  attempt  to  give  any  description  of 
those  scenes  which  give  me  pain.  This  I  will  do  hereafter.  I  have  said 
enough,  and  more  than  your  subscribers  will  be  disposed  to  read  at 
one  time,  of  the  bright  side  of  the  picture.  I  can  trul}^  say  I  have 
spent  some  of  the  happiest  days  of  my  life  since  landing  in  this  coun- 
try. I  seem  to  have  undergone  a  transformation.  I  live  a  new  life. 
The  warm  and  generous  cooperation  extended  to  me  by  the  friends  of 
my  despised  race ;  the  prompt  and  liberal  manner  with  which  the 
press  has  rendered  me  its  aid  ;  the  glorious  enthusiasm  with  which 
thousands  have  flocked  to  hear  the  cruel  wrongs  of  my  dov/n-trodden 
and  long-enslaved  fellow-countrymen  portrayed  ;  the  deep  sympathy 
for  the  slave,  and  the  strong  abhorrence  of  the  slaveholder,  everywhere 
evinced ;  the  cordiality  with  which  members  and  ministers  of  various 
religious  bodies,  and  of  various  shades  of  religious  opinion,  have  em 
braced  me  and  lent  me  their  aid ;  the  kind  hospitality  constantly  prof- 
fered me  by  persons  of  the  highest  rank  in  society ;  the  spirit  of  free- 
dom that  seems  to  animate  all  with  whom  I  come  in  contact,  and  the 
entire  absence  of  everything  that  looks  like  prejudice  against  me,  on 
account  of  the  color  of  my  skin,  contrasts  so  strongly  with  my  long 
and  bitter  experience  in  the  United  States,  that  I  look  with  wonder 
and  amazement  on  the  transition.  In  the  southern  part  of  the  United 
States,  I  was  a  slave — thought  of  and  spoken  of  as  property ;  in  the 
language  of  law,  '  held,  taken,  reputed,  and  adjudged  to  be  a  chattel 
in  the  hands  of  my  owners  and  possessors,  and  their  executors, 
administrators,  and  assigns,   to  all  intents,   constructions,  and  pur- 


poses,  whatsoever,'  (Brev.  Digest.,  224.)  In  the  Northern  States,  a 
fugitive  slave,  liable  to  be  hunted  at  any  moment  like  a  felon,  and  to 
be  hurled  into  the  terrible  jaws  of  slavery — doomed,  by  an  inveterate 
prejudice  against  color,  to  insult  and  outrage  on  every  hand  (Massa- 
chusetts out  of  the  question) — denied  the  privileges  and  courtesies 
common  to  others  in  the  use  of  the  most  humble  means  of  conveyance 
— shut  out  from  the  cabins  on  steamboats,  refused  admission  to 
respectable  hotels,  caricatured,  scorned,  scolfed,  mocked  and  mal- 
treated with  impunity  by  any  one,  no  matter  how  black  his  heart,  so 
he  has  a  white  skin.  But  now  behold  the  change  !  Eleven  days  and 
a  half  gone,  and  I  have  crossed  three  thousand  miles  of  perilous 
deep.  Instead  of  a  democratic  government,  I  am  under  a  monarchial 
government.  Instead  of  the  bright,  blue  sky  of  America,  I  am 
covered  with  the  soft,  gray  fog  of  the  Emerald  Isle,  I  breathe,  and 
lo  !  the  chattel  becomes  a  man  !  I  gaze  around  in  vain  for  one  who 
vdll  question  my  equal  humanity,  claim  me  as  a  slave,  or  offer  me  an 
insult.  I  employ  a  cab — I  am  seated  beside  white  people — I  reach  the 
hotel — I  enter  the  same  door — I  am  shown  into  the  same  parlor — I 
dine  at  the  same  table — and  no  one  is  offended.  No  delicate  nose 
grows  deformed  in  my  presence.  I  find  no  difficulty  here  in  obtain- 
ing admission  into  any  place  of  worship,  instruction  or  amusement, 
on  equal  terms  with  people  as  white  as  any  I  ever  saw  in  the  United 
States.  I  meet  nothing  to  remind  me  of  my  complexion.  I  find  my- 
salf  regarded  and  treated  at  every  turn  with  the  kindness  and  defer- 
ence paid  to  white  people.  When  I  go  to  church  I  am  met  by  no 
upturned  nose  and  scornful  lip,  to  tell  me — *  We  don't  allow  niggers 
in  here.'" 

I  remember  about  two  years  ago  there  was  in  Boston, 
near  the  southwest  corner  of  Boston  Common,  a  menag- 
erie. I  had  long  desired  to  see  such  a  collection  as  I 
understood  was  being  exhibited  there.  Never  having  had 
an  opportunity  while  a  slave,  I  resolved  to  seize  this, 
and  as  I  approached  the  entrance  to  gain  admission,  I 
was  told  by  the  door-keeper,  in  a  harsh  and  contemptu- 
ous tone,  "  We  don't  allow  nigger  sin  JiereP  I  also  remem- 
ber attending  a  revival  meeting  in  the  Rev.  Henry  Jack- 
son's meeting-house,  at  New  Bedford,  and  going  up  the 
broad  aisle  for  a  seat,  I  was  met  by  a  good  deacon,  who 
told  me,  in  a  pious  tone,  "  We  donH  alloiv  niggers  in 
hereP     Soon  after  my  arrival  in  New  Bedford  from  the 


South,  I  had  a  strong  desire  to  attend  the  lyceum,  but 
was  told^  "-They  donH  allow  niggers  there.^^  While  pass- 
ing from  New  York  to  Boston  on  the  steamer  Massachu- 
setts, on  the  night  of  the  9th  of  December,  1843,  when 
chilled  almost  through  with  the  cold,  I  went  into  the 
cabin  to  get  a  little  warm.  I  was  soon  touched  upon  the 
shoulder,  and  told,  "  We  don't  alloiu  niggers  in  kere.^^  A 
week  or  two  before  leaving  the  United  States,  I  had  a 
meeting  appointed  at  Weymouth,  the  house  of  that  glo- 
rious band  of  true  abolitionists — the  Weston  family  and 
others.  On  attempting  to  take  a  seat  in  the  omnibus  to 
that  place,  I  was  told  by  the  driver  (and  I  never  shall 
forget  his  fiendish  hate),  "  I  don't  allow  niggers  in  here.'' 
Thank  Heaven  for  the  respite  I  now  enjoy  !  I  had  been 
in  Dublin  but  a  few  days  when  a  gentleman  of  great 
respectability  kindly  offered  to  conduct  me  through  all 
the  public  buildings  of  that  beautiful  city,  and  soon 
afterward  I  was  invited  by  the  lord  mayor  to  dine  with 
him.  What  a  pity  there  was  not  some  democratic  Chris- 
tian at  the  door  of  his  splendid  mansion  to  bark  out  at 
my  approach,  "  They  don't  allow  niggers  in  here  !  "  The 
truth  is,  the  people  here  knew  nothing  of  the  republican 
negro-hate  prevalent  in  our  glorious  land.  They  measure 
and  esteem  men  according  to  their  moral  and  intellectual 
worth,  and  not  according  to  the  color  of  their  skin. 
Whatever  may  be  said  of  the  aristocracies  here,  there  is 
none  based  on  the  color  of  a  man's  skin.  This  species  of 
aristocracy  belongs  preeminently  to  "  the  land  of  the 
free,  and  the  home  of  the  brave."  I  have  never  found  it 
abroad  in  any  but  Americans.  It  sticks  to  them 
wherever  they  go.  They  find  it  almost  as  hard  to  get 
rid  of  as  to  get  rid  of  their  skins. 

The  second  day  after  my  arrival  in  Liverpool,  in  com- 
pany with  my  friend  Buffum,  and  several  other  friends, 
I  went  to  Eaton  Hall,  the  residence  of  the  Marquis  of 


Westminster,  one  of  the  most  splendid  buildings  in  Eng- 
land. On  approaching  the  door,  I  found  several  of  our 
American  passengers  who  came  out  with  us  in  the  Cam- 
bria, waiting  for  admission,  as  but  one  party  was  allowed 
in  the  house  at  a  time.  We  all  had  to  wait  till  the  com- 
pany within  came  out,  and  of  all  the  faces  expressive  of 
chagrin,  those  of  the  Americans  were  preeminent.  They 
looked  as  sour  as  vinegar,  and  as  bitter  as  gall,  when 
they  found  I  was  to  be  admitted  on  equal  terms  with 
themselves-  When  the  door  was  opened,  I  walked  in  on 
a  footing  with  my  white  fellow-citizens,  and,  from  all  I 
could  see,  I  had  as  much  attention  paid  me  by  the  ser- 
vants who  showed  us  through  the  house  as  any  with  a 
paler  skin.  As  I  w^alked  through  the  building  the  statu- 
ary did  not  fall  down,  the  pictures  did  not  leap  from 
their  places,  the  doors  did  not  refuse  to  open,  and  the 
servants  did  not  say,  "  We  don't  allow  niggers  in  lierer 

My  time  and  labors  while  abroad  were  divided  between 
England,  Ireland,  Scotland,  and  Wales.  Upon  this  ex- 
perience alone  I  might  fill  a  volume.  Amongst  the  few 
incidents  which  space  will  permit  me  to  mention,  and  one 
which  attracted  much  attention  and  provoked  much  dis- 
cussion in  America,  was  a  brief  statement  made  by  me  in 
the  World's  Temperance  Convention,  held  in  Covent 
Garden  theatre,  London,  August  7,  1846.  The  United 
States  was  largely  represented  in  this  convention  by 
eminent  divines,  mostly  doctors  of  divinity.  They  had 
come  to  England  for  the  double  purpose  of  attending  the 
World's  Evangelical  Alliance,  and  the  World's  Temper- 
ance Convention.  In  the  former  these  ministers  were 
endeavoring  to  procure  endorsement  for  the  Christian 
character  of  slaveholders  ;  and,  naturally  enough,  they 
were  adverse  to  the  exposure  of  slaveholding  practices. 
It  was  not  pleasant  to  them  to  see  one  of  the  slaves  run- 
ning at  large  in  England,  and  telling  the  other  side  of  the 

306  DR.  s.  H.  cox. 

story.  The  Rev.  Samuel  Hanson  Cox,  D.  D.,  of  Brook- 
lyn, N.  Y.,  was  especially  disturbed  at  my  presence  and 
speech  in  the  Temperance  Convention.  I  will  give  here, 
first,  the  reverend  gentleman's  version  of  the  occasion  in 
a  letter  from  him  as  it  appeared  in  the  New  York  Evan- 
gelist, the  organ  of  his  denomination.  After  a  descrip- 
tion of  the  place  (Covent  Garden  theatre)  and  the  speak- 
ers, he  says : 

' '  They  all  advocated  the  same  cause,  showed  a  glorious  unity  of 
thought  and  feeling,  and  the  effect  was  constantly  raised — the  moral 
scene  was  superb  and  glorious — when  Frederick  Douglass,  the  colored 
abolition  agitator  and  ultraist,  came  to  the  platform  and  so  spake, 
d  la  mode,  as  to  ruin  the  influence  almost  of  all  that  preceded  !  He 
lugged  in  anti-slavery,  or  abolition,  no  doubt  prompted  to  it  by  some 
of  the  politic  ones  who  can  use  him  to  do  what  they  would  not  them- 
selves adventure  to  do  in  person.  He  is  supposed  to  have  been  well 
paid  for  the  abomination. 

* '  What  a  perversion,  an  abuse,  an  iniquity  against  the  law  of  recip- 
rocal righteousness,  to  call  thousands  together  and  get  them,  some  cer- 
tain ones,  to  seem  conspicuous  and  devoted  for  one  sole  and  grand 
object,  and  then  all  at  once,  with  obliquity,  open  an  avalanche  on  them 
for  some  imputed  evil  or  monstrosity,  for  which,  whatever  be  the 
wound  or  injury  inflicted,  they  were  both  too  fatigued  and  hurried 
with  surprise,  and  too  straightened  for  time,  to  be  properly  prepared. 
I  say  it  is  a  streak  of  meanness.  It  it  abominable.  On  this  occasion 
Mr.  Douglass  allowed  himself  to  denounce  America  and  all  its  tem- 
perance societies  together  as  a  grinding  community  of  the  enemies  of 
his  people ;  said  evil  with  no  alloy  of  good  concerning  the  whole  of  us ; 
was  perfectly  indiscriminate  in  his  severities;  talked  of  the  American 
delegates  and  to  them  as  if  he  had  been  our  schoolmaster  and  we  his  do- 
cile and  devoted  pupils ;  and  launched  his  revengeful  missiles  at  our 
country  without  one  palliative,  and  as  if  not  a  Christian  or  a  true  anti- 
slavery  man  lived  in  the  whole  of  the  United  States.  The  fact  is,  the  man 
has  been  petted  and  flattered  and  used  and  paid  by  certain  abolitionists, 
not  unknown  to  us,  of  the  ne  plus  ultra  stamp,  till  he  forgets  himself, 
and  though  he  may  gratify  his  own  impulses  and  those  of  old  Adam  in 
others,  yet  I  am  sure  that  all  this  is  just  the  way  to  ruin  his  own  influ- 
ence, to  defeat  his  own  object,  and  to  do  mischief,  not  good,  to  the  very 
cause  he  professes  to  love.  With  the  single  exception  of  one  cold- 
hearted  parricide,  whose  character  I  abhor,  and  whom  I  will  not 
name,  and  who  has,  I  fear,  no  feeling  of  true  patriotism  or  piety  with- 


in  him,  all  the  delegates  from  our  country  were  together  wounded  and 
indignant.  No  wonder  at  it.  I  write  freely.  It^was  not  done  in  a 
corner.  It  was  inspired,  I  believe,  from  beneath,  and  not  from  above. 
It  was  adapted  to  rekindle  on  both  sides  of  the  Atlantic  the  flames  of 
national  exasperation  and  war.  And  this  is  the  game  which  Mr. 
Frederick  Douglass  and  his  silly  patrons  are  playing  in  England  and 
in  Scotland,  and  wherever  they  can  find  '  some  mischief  still  for  idle 
hands  to  do.'  I  came  here  his  sympathizing  friend;  I  am  such 
no  more,  as  I  know  him.  My  own  opinion  is  increasingly  that  this 
spirit  must  be  exorcised  out  of  England  and  America  before  any  sub- 
stantial good  can  be  effected  for  the  cause  of  the  slave.  It  is  adapted 
only  to  make  bad  worse  and  to  inflame  the  passions  of  indignant  mil- 
lions to  an  incurable  resentment.  None  but  an  ignoramus  or  a  mad- 
man could  think  that  this  way  was  that  of  the  inspired  apostles  of  the 
Son  of  God.  It  may  gratify  the  feelings  of  a  self-deceived  and 
malignant  few,  but  it  will  do  no  good  in  any  direction ;  least  of  all  to 
the  poor  slave.  It  is  short-sighted,  impulsive,  partisan,  reckless,  and 
tending  only  to  sanguinary  ends.  None  of  this  with  men  of  sense  and 

'  *  We  all  wanted  to  reply,  but  it  was  too  late.  The  whole  theater 
seemed  taken  with  the  spirit  of  the  Ephesian  uproar;  they  were 
furious  and  boisterous  in  the  extreme,  and  Mr.  Kirk  could  hardly  ob- 
tain a  moment,  though  many  were  desirous  in  his  behalf,  to  say  a  few 
words  as  he  did,  very  calm  and  properly,  that  the  cause  of  temperance 
was  not  at  all  responsible  for  slavery,  and  had  no  connection  with  it." 

Now,  to  show  the  reader  what  ground  there  was  for  this 
tirade  from  the  pen  of  this  eminent  divine,  and  how 
easily  Americans  parted  with  their  candor  and  self-pos- 
session when  slavery  was  mentioned  adversely,  I  will  give 
here  the  head  and  front  of  my  offense.  Let  it  be  borne 
in  mind  that  this  was  a  world's  convention  of  the  friends 
of  temperance.  It  was  not  an  American  or  a  white  man's 
convention,  but  one  composed  of  men  of  all  nations  and 
races ;  and  as  such  the  convention  had  the  right  to  know 
all  about  the  temperance  cause  in  every  part  of  the  world, 
and  especially  to  know  what  hindrances  were  interposed 
in  any  part  of  the  world  to  its  progress.  I  was  perfectly 
in  order  in  speaking  precisely  as  I  did.  I  was  neither  an 
"  intruder  "  nor  "  out  of  order."  I  had  been  invited  and 
advertised  to  speak  by  the  same  committee  that  invited 

308  author's  address. 

Doctors  Bcecher,  Cox,  Patton,  Kirk,  Marsh,  and  others, 
and  my  speech  was  perfectly  within  the  limits  of  good 
order,  as  the  following  report  will  show  : 

"  Mr.  Glmirman — Ladies  and  Gentlemen : 

"I  am  not  a  delegate  to  this  convention.  Those  who  would  have 
been  most  likely  to  elect  me  as  a  delegate  could  not,  because  they  are 
to-night  held  in  abject  slavery  in  the  United  States.  Sir,  I  regret  that 
I  cannot  fully  unite  w^ith  the  American  delegates  in  their  patriotic 
eulogies  of  America  and  American  temperance  societies.  I  cannot  do 
so  for  this  good  reason :  there  are  at  this  moment  three  millions  of  the 
American  population  by  slavery  and  prejudice  placed  entirely  beyond 
the  pale  of  American  temperance  societies.  The  three  million  slaves 
are  completely  excluded  by  slavery,  and  four  hundred  thousand  free* 
colored  people  are  almost  as  completely  excluded  by  an  inveterate 
prejudice  against  them  on  account  of  their  color.  [Cries  of  *  Shame! 

"  I  do  not  say  these  things  to  wound  the  feelings  of  the  American 
delegates.  I  simply  mention  them  in  their  presence  and  before  this 
audience  that,  seeing  how  you  regard  this  hatred  and  neglect  of  the 
colored  people,  they  may  be  inclined  on  their  return  home  to  enlarge 
the  field  of  their  temperance  operations  and  embrace  within  the  scope 
of  their  influence  my  long-neglected  race.  [Great  cheering,  and  some 
confusion  on  the  platform.]  Sir,  to  give  you  some  idea  of  the  difli- 
culties  and  obstacles  in  the  way  of  the  temperance  reformation  of  the 
colored  population  in  the  United  States,  allow  me  to  state  a  few  facts. 

"About  the  year  1840,  a  few  intelligent,  sober,  and  benevolent  col- 
ored gentlemen  in  Philadelphia,  being  acquainted  with  the  appalling 
ravages  of  intemperance  among  a  numerous  class  of  colored  people  in 
that  city,  and  finding  themselves  neglected  and  excluded  from  white 
societies,  organized  societies  among  themselves,  appointed  commit- 
tees, sent  out  agents,  built  temperance  halls,  and  were  earnestly  and 
successfully  rescuing  many  from  the  fangs  of  intemperance. 

**  The  cause  went  on  nobly  till  August  1,  1842,  the  day  when  Eng- 
land gave  liberty  to  eight  hundred  thousand  souls  in  the  West  Indies. 
The  colored  temperance  societies  selected  this  day  to  march  in 
procession  through  the  city,  in  the  hope  that  such  a  demonstration 
would  have  the  effect  of  bringing  others  into  their  ranks.  They 
formed  their  procession,  unfurled  their  teetotal  banners,  and  proceed- 
ed to  the  accomplishment  of  their  purpose.  It  was  a  delightful  sight. 
But,  sir,  they  had  not  proceeded  down  two  streets  before  they  were 
brutally  assailed  by  a  ruthless  mob ;  their  banner  was  torn  down  and 
trampled  in  the  dust,  their  ranks  broken  up,  their  persons  beaten  and 
pelted  with  stones  and  brickbats.      One  of  their  churches  was  burned 


to  the  ground,  and  their  best  temperance  hall  utterly  demolished. 
['Shame!  shame!  shame!'  from  the  audience,  great  confusion,  and 
cries  of  '  Sit  down '  from  the  American  delegates  on  the  platform.]  " 

In  the  midst  of  this  commotion  the  chairman  tapped 
me  on  the  shoulder,  and,  whispering,  informed  me  that 
the  fifteen  minutes  allotted  to  each  speaker  had  expired ; 
whereupon  the  vast  audience  simultaneously  shouted: 
''  Don't  interrupt !  "  "  Don't  dictate !  "  "  Go  on !  "  "  Go 
on! "  "  Douglass ! "  "  Douglass  !  "  This  continued  sev- 
eral minutes,  when  I  proceeded  as  follows  :  "  Kind  friends, 
I  beg  to  assure  you  that  the  chairman  has  not  in  the 
slightest  degree  sought  to  alter  any  sentiment  which  I  am 
anxious  to  express  on  this  occasion.  He  was  simply  re- 
minding me  that  the  time  allotted  for  me  to  speak  had 
expired.  I  do  not  wish  to  occupy  one  moment  more  than 
is  allotted  to  other  speakers.  Thanking  you  for  your  kind 
indulgence,  I  will  take  my  seat."  Proceeding  to  do  so 
again,  there  were  loud  cries  of  "  Go  on  ! "  "  Go  on !  " 
with  which  I  complied  for  a  few  moments,  but  without 
saying  anything  more  that  particularly  related  to  the  col- 
ored people  in  America.  I  did  not  allow  the  letter  of  Dr. 
Cox  to  go  unanswered  through  the  American  journals,  but 
promptly  exposed  its  unfairness.  That  letter  is  too  long 
for  insertion  here.  A  part  of  it  was  published  in  the 
Evangelist  and  in  many  other  papers,  both  in  this  country 
and  in  England.  Our  eminent  divine  made  no  rejoinder, 
and  his  silence  was  regarded  at  the  time  as  an  admission 
of  defeat. 

Another  interesting  circumstance  connected  with  my 
visit  to  England  was  the  position  of  the  Free  Church  of 
Scotland,  with  the  great  Doctors  Chalmers,  Cunningham, 
and  Candish  at  its  head.  That  Church  had  settled  for 
itself  the  question  which  was  frequently  asked  by  the  op- 
ponents of  abolition  at  home,  "  What  have  we  to  do  with 
slavery? ^^  by  accepting  contributions  from  slaveholders; 

310  IN    EDINBURGH. 

{.  e.,  receiving  the  price  of  blood  into  its  treasury 
with  wliicli  to  build  churches  and  pay  ministers  for 
preaching  the  gospel ;  and  worse  than  this,  when 
honest  John  Murray  of  Bowlein  Bay,  with  William  Smeal, 
Andrew  Paton,  Frederick  Card,  and  other  sterling  anti- 
slavery  men  in  Glasgow,  denounced  the  transaction  as 
disgraceful,  and  shocking  to  the  religious  sentiment  of 
Scotland,  this  church,  through  its  leading  divines,  histead 
of  repenting  and  seeking  to  amend  the  mistake  into  which 
it  had  fallen,  caused  that  mistake  to  become  a  flagrant 
sin  by  undertaking  to  defend,  in  the  name  of  God  and 
the  Bible,  the  principle  not  only  of  taking  the  money  of 
slave-dealers  to  build  churches  and  thus  extend  the  gospel, 
but  of  holding  fellowship  with  the  traffickers  in  human 
flesh.  This,  the  reader  will  see,  brought  up  the  whole 
question  of  slavery,  and  opened  the  way  to  its  full  discus- 
sion. I  have  never  seen  a  people  more  deeply  moved 
than  were  the  people  of  Scotland  on  this  very  question. 
Public  meeting  succeeded  public  meeting,  speech  after 
speech,  pamphlet  after  pamphlet,  editorial  after  editorial, 
sermon  after  sermon  ;  lashed  the  conscientious  Scotch 
people  into  a  perfect  furore.  "Send  back  the  money  I" 
was  indignantly  shouted  from  Greenock  to  Edinburgh, 
and  from  Edinburgh  to  Aberdeen.  George  Thompson  of 
London,  Henry  C.  Wright,  J.  N.  Buffum  and  myself  from 
America,  were  of  course  on  the  anti-slavery  side,  and 
Chalmers,  Cunningham,  and  Candlish  on  the  other. 
Dr.  Cunningham  was  the  most  powerful  debater  on  the 
slavery  side  of  the  question,  Mr.  Thompson  the  ablest  on 
the  anti-slavery  side.  A  scene  occurred  between  these 
two  men,  a  parallel  to  which  I  think  I  have  never  wit- 
nessed before  or  since.  It  was  caused  by  a  single  excla- 
mation on  the  part  of  Mr.  Thompson,  and  was  on  this 

The  general  assembly  of  the  Free  Church  was  in  prog- 


ress  at  Cannon  Mills,  Edinburgh.  The  building  would 
hold  twenty-five  hundred  persons,  and  on  this  occasion 
was  densely  packed,  notice  having  been  given  tliat  Doc- 
tors Cunningham  and  Candlish  would  speak  that  day  in 
defense  of  the  relations  of  the  Free  Church  of  Scotland 
to  slavery  in  America.  Messrs.  Thompson,  Buffum,  my- 
self and  a  few  other  anti-slavery  friends  attended,  but 
sat  at  such  distance  and  in  such  position  as  not  to  be 
observed  from  the  platform.  The  excitement  was  intense, 
having  been  greatly  increased  by  a  series  of  meetings 
held  by  myself  and  friends,  in  the  most  splendid  hall  in 
that  most  beautiful  city,  just  previous  to  this  meeting  of 
the  general  assembly.  ''Send  back  the  money!"  in  large 
capitals  stared  from  every  street  corner ;  "  Send  back  the 
MONEY ! "  adorned  the  broad  flags  of  the  pavement ;  "  Send 
BACK  the  money  !  "  was  the  chorus  of  the  popular  street- 
song  ;  "  Send  back  the  money  ! "  was  the  heading  of  leading 
editorials  in  the  daily  newspapers.  This  day,  at  Cannon 
Mills,  the  great  doctors  of  the  church  were  to  give  an 
answer  to  this  loud  and  stern  demand.  Men  of  all  par- 
ties and  sects  were  most  eager  to  hear.  Something  great 
was  expected.  The  occasion  was  great,  the  men  were 
great,  and  great  speeches  were  expected  from  them. 

In  addition  to  the  outward  pressure  there  was  wavering 
within.  The  conscience  of  the  church  itself  was  not  at 
ease.  A  dissatisfaction  with  the  position  of  the  church 
touching  slavery  was  sensibly  manifest  among  the  mem- 
bers, and  something  must  be  done  to  counteract  this 
untoward  influence.  The  great  Dr.  Chalmers  was  in 
feeble  health  at  the  time,  so  his  most  potent  eloquence 
could  not  now  be  summoned  to  Cannon  Mills,  as  formerly. 
He  whose  voice  had  been  so  powerful  as  to  rend  asunder 
and  dash  down  the  granite  walls  of  the  Established 
Church  of  Scotland,  and  to  lead  a  host  in  solemn  pro- 
cession from  it  as  from  a  doomed  city,  was  now  old  and 


enfeebled.  Besides,  he  had  said  his  word  on  this  very- 
question,  and  it  had  not  silenced  the  clamor  without  nor 
stilled  the  anxious  heavings  within.  The  occasion  was 
momentous,  and  felt  to  be  so.  The  church  was  in  a 
perilous  condition.  A  change  of  some  sort  must  take 
place,  or  she  must  go  to  pieces.  To  stand  where  she  did 
was  impossible.  The  whole  weight  of  the  matter  fell  on 
Cunningham  and  Candlish.  No  shoulders  in  the  church 
were  broader  than  theirs ;  and  I  must  say,  badly  as  I 
detested  the  principles  laid  down  and  defended  by  them, 
I  was  compelled  to  acknowledge  the  vast  mental  endow- 
ments of  the  men. 

Cunningham  rose,  and  his  rising  was  the  signal  for 
tumultuous  applause.  It  may  be  said  that  this  was 
scarcely  in  keeping  with  the  solemnity  of  the  occasion, 
but  to  me  it  served  to  increase  its  grandeur  and  gravity. 
The  applause,  though  tumultuous,  was  not  joyous.  It 
seemed  to  me,  as  it  thundered  up  from  the  vast  audience, 
like  the  fall  of  an  immense  shaft,  flung  from  shoulders 
already  galled  by  its  crushing  weight.  It  was  like  saying 
"Doctor,  we  have  borne  this  burden  long  enough,  and 
willingly  fling  it  upon  you.  Since  it  was  you  who  brought 
it  upon  us,  take  it  now  and  do  what  you  will  with  it,  for 
we  are  too  weary  to  bear  it." 

The  Doctor  proceeded  with  his  speech — abounding  in 
logic,  learning,  and  eloquence,  and  apparently  bearing 
down  all  opposition  ;  but  at  the  moment — the  fatal  mo- 
ment— when  he  was  just  bringing  all  his  arguments  to  a 
point,  and  that  point  being  that  "  neither  Jesus  Christ 
nor  his  holy  apostles  regarded  slaveholding  as  a  sin," 
George  Thompson,  in  a  clear,  sonorous,  but  rebuking 
voice,  broke  the  deep  stillness  of  the  audience,  exclaim- 
ing, "Hear!  Hear!  Hear!"  The  effect  of  this  simple 
and  common  exclamation  is  almost  incredible.  It  was 
as  if  a  granite  wall  had  been  suddenly  flung  up  against 


the  advancing  current  of  a  mighty  river.  For  a  moment 
speaker  and  audience  were  brought  to  a  dead  silence. 
Both  the  Doctor  and  his  hearers  seemed  appalled  by  the 
audacity,  as  well  as  the  fitness  of  the  rebuke.  At  length 
a  shout  went  up  to  the  cry  of  ^'Put  him  out!^^  Happily 
no  one  attempted  to  execute  this  cowardly  order,  and  the 
discourse  went  on ;  but  not  as  before.  The  exclamation 
of  Thompson  must  have  re-echoed  a  thousand  times  in 
his  memory,  for  the  Doctor,  during  the  remainder  of  his 
speech,  was  utterly  unable  to  recover  from  the  blow. 
The  deed  was  done,  however ;  the  pillars  of  the  church — 
the  proud  Free  Church  of  Scotland — were  committed,  and 
the  humility  of  repentance  was  absent.  The  Free  Church 
held  on  to  the  blood-stained  money,  and  continued  to 
justify  itself  in  its  position. 

One  good  result  followed  the  conduct  of  the  Free 
Church ;  it  furnished  an  occasion  for  making  the  people 
thoroughly  acquainted  with  the  character  of  slavery  and 
for  arraying  against  it  the  moral  and  religious  sentiment 
of  that  country ;  therefore,  while  we  did  not  procure  the 
sending  back  of  the  money,  we  were  amply  justified  by 
the  good  which  really  did  result  from  our  labors. 

I  must  add  one  word  in  regard  to  the  Evangelical 
Alliance.  This  was  an  attempt  to  form  a  union  of  all 
Evangelical  Christians  throughout  the  world,  and  which 
held  its  first  session  in  London,  in  the  year  1846,  at  the 
time  of  the  World's  Temperance  Convention  there.  Some 
sixty  or  seventy  ministers  from  America  attended  this 
convention,  the  object  of  some  of  them  being  to  weave  a 
world-wide  garment  with  which  to  clothe  evangelical 
slaveholders ;  and  in  this  they  partially  succeeded.  But 
the  question  of  slavery  was  too  large  a  question  to  be 
finally  disposed  of  by  the  Evangelical  Alliance,  and  from 
its  judgment  we  appealed  to  the  judgment  of  the  people 
of  Great  Britain,  with  the  happiest  effect — this  effort  of 

314  LORD   MORPETH    AND   DR.  KIRK. 

our  countrymen  to  shield  the  character  of  slaveholders 
serving  to  open  a  way  to  the  British  ear  for  anti-slavery 

I  may  mention  here  an  incident  somewhat  amusing 
and  instructive,  as  it  serves  to  illustrate  how  easily 
Americans  could  set  aside  their  notoriously  inveterate 
prejudice  against  color,  when  it  stood  in  the  way  of  their 
wishes,  or  when  in  an  atmosphere  which  made  that  preju- 
dice unpopular  and  unchristian. 

At  the  entrance  to  the  House  of  Commons  I  had  one 
day  been  conversing  for  a  few  moments  with  Lord  Mor- 
peth, and  just  as  I  was  parting  from  him  I  felt  an  em- 
phatic push  against  my  arm,  and,  looking  around,  I  saw 
at  my  elbow  Rev.  Dr.  Kirk  of  Boston.  "Introduce  me  to 
Lord  Morpeth,"  he  said.  "  Certainly,"  said  I,  and  intro- 
duced him;  not  without  remembering,  however,  that  the 
amiable  Doctor  would  scarcely  have  asked  such  a  favor 
of  a  colored  man  at  home. 

The  object  of  my  labors  in  Great  Britain  was  the  con- 
centration of  the  moral  and  religious  sentiment  of  its 
people  against  American  slavery.  To  this  end  I  visited 
and  lectured  in  nearly  all  the  large  towns  and  cities 
in  the  United  Kingdom,  and  enjoyed  many  favorable  op- 
portunities for  observation  and  information.  I  should 
like  to  write  a  book  on  those  countries,  if  for  nothing 
else,  to  make  grateful  mention  of  the  many  dear  friends 
whose  benevolent  actions  toward  me  are  ineffaceably 
stamped  upon  my  memory  and  warmly  treasured  in  my 
heart.  To  these  friends  I  owe  my  freedom  in  the  United 

Mrs.  Ellen  Eichardson,  an  excellent  member  of  the  so- 
ciety of  Friends,  assisted  by  her  sister-in-law,  Mrs.  Henry 
Richardson,  a  lady  devoted  to  every  good  word  and  work, 
the  friend  of  the  Indian  and  the  African,  conceived  the 
plan  of  raising  a  fund  to  effect  my  ransom  from  slavery. 


They  corresponded  with  Hon.  Walter  Forward  of  Penn- 
sylvania, and  through  him  ascertained  that  Captain  Auld 
would  take  one  hundred  and  fifty  pounds  sterling  for  me ; 
and  this  sum  they  promptly  raised  and  paid  for  my  libera- 
tion, placing  the  papers  of  my  manumission  into  my  hands 
before  they  would  tolerate  the  idea  of  my  return  to  my 
native  land.  To  this  commercial  transaction,  to  this 
blood-money,  I  owe  my  immunity  from  the  operation  of 
the  fugitive  slave  law  of  1793,  and  also  from  that  of  1850. 
The  whole  affair  speaks  for  itself,  and  needs  no  comment, 
now  that  slavery  has  ceased  to  exist  in  this  country,  and 
is  not  likely  ever  again  to  be  revived. 

Some  of  my  uncompromising  anti-slavery  friends  in 
this  country  failed  to  see  the  wisdom  of  this  commercial 
transaction,  and  were  not  pleased  that  I  consented  to 
it,  even  by  my  silence.  They  thought  it  a  violation 
of  anti-slavery  principles,  conceding  the  right  of  property 
in  man,  and  a  wasteful  expenditure  of  money.  For 
myself,  viewing  it  simply  in  the  light  of  a  ransom,  or  as 
money  extorted  by  a  robber,  and  my  liberty  of  more  value 
than  one  hundred  and  fifty  pounds  sterling,  I  could  not 
see  either  a  violation  of  the  laws  of  morality  or  of  econ- 
omy. It  is  true  I  was  not  in  the  possession  of  my  claim- 
ants, and  could  have  remained  in  England,  for  my  friends 
would  have  generously  assisted  me  in  establishing  myself 
there.  To  this  I  could  not  consent.  I  felt  it  my  duty  to 
labor  and  suffer  with  my  oppressed  people  in  my  native 
land.  Considering  all  the  circumstances,  the  fugitive 
bill  included,  I  think  now  as  then,  that  the  very  best 
thing  was  done  in  letting  Master  Hugh  have  the  money, 
and  thus  leave  me  free  to  return  to  my  appropriate  field 
of  labor.  Had  I  been  a  private  person,  with  no  relations 
or  duties  other  than  those  of  a  personal  and  family 
nature,  I  should  not  have  consented  to  the  payment  of  so 
large  a  sum  for  the   privilege  of  living   securely  under 


our  glorious  republican(?)  form  of  government.  I  could 
have  lived  elsewhere,  or  perhaps  might  have  been  unob- 
served even  here,  but  I  had  become  somewhat  notorious, 
and  withal  quite  as  unpopular  in  some  directions  as  no- 
torious, and  I  was  therefore  much  exposed  to  arrest  and 

*The  following  is  a  copy  of  these  curious  papers,  both  of  my  trans- 
fer from  Thomas  to  Hugh  Auld  and  from  Hugh  to  myself : 

"  Know  all  men  by  these  presents :  That  I,  Thomas  Auld,  of  Talbot 
county  and  State  of  Maryland,  for  and  in  consideration  of  the  sum  of 
one  hundred  dollars,  current  money,  to  me  paid  by  Hugh  Auld  of  the 
city  of  Baltimore,  in  the  said  State,  at  and  before  the  seaUng  and  de- 
livery of  these  presents,  the  receipt  whereof  I,  the  said  Thomas  Auld, 
do  hereby  acknowledge,  have  granted,  bargained,  and  sold,  and 
by  these  presents  do  grant,  bargain,  and  sell  unto  the  said  Hugh 
Auld,  his  executors,  administrators,  and  assigns,  one  negro  man,  by 
the  name  of  Frederick  Bailey,  or  Douglass,  as  he  calls  himself — 
he  is  now  about  twenty-eight  years  of  age — to  have  and  to  hold  the 
said  negro  man  for  life.  And  I,  the  said  Thomas  Auld,  for  myself, 
my  heirs,  executors,  and  administrators,  all  and  singular,  the  said 
Frederick  Bailey,  alias  Douglass,  unto  the  said  Hugh  Auld,  his 
executors  and  administrators,  and  against  all  and  every  other  person 
or  persons  whatsoever,  shall  and  will  warrant  and  forever  defend  by 
these  presents.  In  witness  whereof,  I  set  my  hand  and  seal  this  thir- 
teenth day  of  November,  eighteen  hundi*ed  and  forty-six  (1846). 

"  Thomas  Auld. 

**  Signed,  sealed,  and  delivered  in  presence  of  Wrightson  Jones, 
John  C.  Lear." 

The  authenticity  of  this  bill  of  sale  is  attested  by  N.  Harrington,  a 
justice  of  the  peace  of  the  State  of  Maryland  and  for  the  county  of 
Talbot,  dated  same  day  as  above. 

"  To  all  whom  it  may  concern:  Be  it  known  that  I,  Hugh  Auld  of 
the  city  of  Baltimore,  in  Baltimore  county  in  the  State  of  Maryland, 
for  divers  good  causes  and  considerations  me  thereunto  moving,  have 
released  from  slavery,  liberated,  manumitted,  and  set  free,  and  by 
these  presents  do  hereby  release  from  slavery,  liberate,  manumit,  and 
set  free,  my  negro  man  named  Frederick  Bailey,  otherwise  called 
Douglass,  being  of  the  age  of  twenty-eight  years  or  thereabouts,  and 
able  to  work  and  gain  a  sufficient  livelihood  and  maintenance;  and 
him,  the  said  negro  man  named  Frederick  Douglass,  I  do  declare 


Having  remained  abroad  nearly  two  years,  and  being 
about  to  return  to  America,  not  as  I  left  it,  a  slave,  but  a 
freeman,  prominent  friends  of  tlie  cause  of  emancipation 
intimated  their  intention  to  make  me  a  testimonial,  both 
on  grounds  of  personal  regard  to  me  and  also  to  the 
cause  to  which  they  were  so  ardently  devoted.  How  such 
a  project  would  have  succeeded  I  do  not  know,  but  many 
reasons  led  me  to  prefer  that  my  friends  should  simply 
give  me  the  means  of  obtaining  a  printing-press  and  ma- 
terials to  enable  me  to  start  a  paper  advocating  the 
interests  of  my  enslaved  and  oppressed  people.  I  told 
them  that  perhaps  the  greatest  hindrance  to  the  adoption 
of  abolition  principles  by  the  people  of  the  United  States 
was  the  low  estimate  everywhere  in  that  country  placed 
upon  the  negro  as  a  man ;  that  because  of  his  assumed 
natural  inferiority  people  reconciled  themselves  to  his  en- 
slavement and  oppression  as  being  inevitable,  if  not 
desirable.  The  grand  thing  to  be  done,  therefore,  was  to 
change  this  estimation  by  disproving  his  inferiority  and 
demonstrating  his  capacity  for  a  more  exalted  civilization 
than  slavery  and  prejudice  had  assigned  him.  In  my 
judgment,  a  tolerably  well-conducted  press  in  the  hands 
of  persons  of  the  despised  race  would,  by  calling  out  and 
making  them  acquainted  with  their  own  latent  powers,  by 
enkindling  their  hope  of  a  future  and  developing  their 
moral  force,  prove  a  most  powerful  means  of  removing 
prejudice  and  awakening  an  interest  in  them.  At  that 
time  there  was  not  a  single  newspaper  regularly  published 
by  the  colored  people  in  the  country,  though  many  at- 

to  be  henceforth  free,  manumitted,  and  discharged  from  all  manner  of 
servitude  to  me,  my  executors  and  administrators  forever. 

"  In  witness  whereof,  I,  the  said  Hugh  Auld,  have  hereunto  set  my 
hand  and  seal  the  fifth  of  December,  in  the  year  one  thousand  eight 
hundred  and  forty-six.  Hugh  Auld. 

"  Sealed  and  delivered  in  presence  of  T.  Hanson  Belt,  James  N.  S. 
T.  Wright." 


tempts  had  been  made  to  establish  such,  and  had  from 
one  cause  or  another  failed.  These  views  I  laid  before 
my  friends.  The  result  was  that  nearly  two  thousand 
five  hundred  dollars  were  speedily  raised  toward  my 
establishing  such  a  paper  as  I  had  indicated.  For  this 
prompt  and  generous  assistance,  rendered  upon  my  bare 
suggestion,  without  any  personal  effort  on  my  part, 
I  shall  never  cease  to  feel  deeply  grateful,  and  the  thought 
of  fulfilling  the  expectations  of  the  dear  friends  who  had 
given  me  this  evidence  of  their  confidence  was  an  abiding 
inspiration  for  persevering  exertion. 

Proposing  to  leave  England  and  turning  my  face  toward 
America  in  the  spring  of  1847,  I  was  painfully  reminded 
of  the  kind  of  life  which  awaited  me  on  my  arrival.  For 
the  first  time  in  the  many  months  spent  abroad  I  was  met 
with  proscription  on  account  of  my  color.  While  in  London 
I  had  purchased  a  ticket  and  secured  a  berth  for  returning 
home  in  the  Cambria — the  steamer  in  which  I  had  come 
from  thence — and  paid  therefor  the  round  sum  of  forty 
pounds  nineteen  shillings  sterling.  This  was  first-cabin 
fare ;  but  on  going  on  board  I  found  that  the  Liver- 
pool agent  had  ordered  my  berth  to  be  given  to  another, 
and  forbidden  my  entering  the  saloon.  It  was  rather 
hard,  after  having  enjoyed  for  so  long  a  time  equal  social 
privileges,  after  dining  with  persons  of  great  literary, 
social,  political,  and  religious  eminence,  and  never,  during 
the  whole  time,  having  met  with  a  single  word,  look, 
or  gesture  which  gave  me  the  slightest  reason  to  think  my 
color  was  an  offense  to  any  body,  now  to  be  cooped 
up  in  the  stern  of  the  Cambria  and  denied  the  right 
to  enter  the  saloon,  lest  my  presence  should  disturb  some 
democratic  fellow-passenger.  The  reader  can  easily 
imagine  what  must  have  been  my  feelings  under  such  an 

This  contemptible  conduct  met  with  stern  rebuke  from 


the  British  press.  The  London  Times  and  other  leading 
journals  throughout  the  United  Kingdom  held  up  the  out- 
rage to  unmitigated  condemnation.  So  good  an  opportu- 
nity for  calling  out  British  sentiment  on  the  subject  had 
not  before  occurred,  and  it  was  fully  embraced.  The 
result  was  that  Mr.  Cunard  came  out  in  a  letter  express- 
ive of  his  regret,  and  promising  that  the  like  indignity, 
should  never  occur  again  on  his  steamers,  which  promise 
I  believe  has  been  faithfully  kept. 


New  Experiences— Painful  Disagreement  of  Opinion  with  old 
Friends— Final  Decision  to  publish  my  Paper  in  Rochester — Its 
Fortunes  and  its  Friends— Change  in  my  own  Views  Regarding  the 
Constitution  of  the  United  States— Fidelity  to  Conviction— Loss  of 
Old  Friends — Support  of  New  Ones — Loss  of  House,  etc. ,  by  Fire — 
Triumphs  and  Trials — Underground  Railroad — Incidents. 

PREPARED  as  I  was  to  meet  with  many  trials  and 
perplexities  on  reaching  home,  one  of  which  I  little 
dreamed  was  awaiting  me.  My  plans  for  future  useful- 
ness, as  indicated  in  the  last  chapter,  were  all  settled, 
and  in  imagination  I  already  saw  myself  wielding  my  pen 
as  well  as  my  voice  in  the  great  work  of  renovating  the 
public  mind,  and  building  up  a  public  sentiment,  which 
should  send  slavery  to  the  grave,  and  restore  to  "  liberty 
and  the  pursuit  of  happiness  "  the  people  with  whom  I 
had  suffered. 

My  friends  in  Boston  had  been  informed  of  what  I  was 
intending,  and  I  expected  to  find  them  favorably  disposed 
toward  my  cherished  enterprise.  In  this  I  was  mis- 
taken. They  had  many  reasons  against  it.  First,  no 
such  paper  was  needed  ;  secondly,  it  would  interfere  with 
my  usefulness  as  a  lecturer ;  thirdly,  I  was  better  fitted 
to  speak  than  to  write ;  fourthly,  the  paper  could  not 
succeed.  This  opposition  from  a  quarter  so  highly 
esteemed,  and  to  which  I  had  been  accustomed  to  look 
for  advice  and  direction,  caused  me  not  only  to  hesitate, 
but  inclined  me  to  abandon  the  undertaking.  All  pre- 
vious attempts  to  establish  such  a  journal  having  failed, 



I  feared  lest  I  should  but  add  another  to  the  list,  and 
thus  contribute  another  proof  of  the  mental  deficiencies 
of  my  race.     Very  much  that  was  said  to  me  in  respect 
to  my  imperfect  literary  attainments  I  felt  to  be  most 
painfully  true.     The  unsuccessful  projectors  of  all  former 
attempts   had   been  my  superiors  in  point  of  education, 
and  if  they  had  failed  how  could  I   hope   for  success  ? 
Yet  I  did  hope  for  success,  and  persisted  in  the  under- 
taking, encouraged  by  my  English  friends  to  go  forward. 
I  can  easily  pardon  those  who  saw  in  my  persistence 
an  unwarrantable  ambition  and  presumption.     I  was  but 
nine  years  from  slavery.     In  many  phases  of  mental  ex- 
perience I  was  but  nine  years  old.     That  one  under  such 
circumstances  should  aspire  to  establish  a  printing-press, 
surrounded  by  an  educated  people,  might  well  be  considered 
unpractical,    if  not    ambitious.     My    American    friends 
looked   at   me   with   astonishment.     "  A   wood-sawyer " 
offering   himself  to  the   public  as   an  editor !     A  slave, 
brought   up   in   the   depths   of   ignorance,   assuming  to 
instruct  the  highly  civilized  people  of  the  north  in  the 
principles  of  liberty,  justice,  and  humanity  !     The  thing 
looked  absurd.     Nevertheless,  I  persevered.     I  felt  that 
the  want  of  education,  great  as  it  was,  could  be  overcome 
by  study,  and  that   wisdom  would  come  by  experience ; 
and   further  (which   was   perhaps   the   most  controlling 
consideration)  I  thought  that  an  intelligent  public,  know- 
ing  my   early   history,   would   easily   pardon  the  many 
deficiencies   which   I   well   knew   that   my  paper    must 
exhibit.     The  most  distressing  part   of  it   all  was  the 
offense  which  I  saw  I  must  give  my  friends  of  the  old 
anti-slavery    organization,  by   what   seemed   to  them   a 
reckless  disregard  of  their  opinion  and  advice.     I  am  not 
sure  that  I  was  not  under  the  influence  of  something  like 
a  slavish  adoration  of  these  good  people,  and  I  labored 


hard  to  convince   tlicm   that  my  way  of  thinking  about 
the  matter  was  the  riglit  one,  but  without  success. 

From  motives  of  peace,  instead  of  issuing  my  paper  in 
Boston,  among  New  England  friends,  I  went  to  Roches- 
ter, N.  Y.,  among  strangers,  wliere  the  local  circulation 
of  my  paper — ''  The  North  Star  " — would  not  interfere 
with  that  of  the  Liberator  or  the  Anti-Slavery  Standard^ 
for  I  was  then  a  faithful  disciple  of  Wm.  Lloyd  Garrison, 
and  fully  committed  to  his  doctrine  touching  the  pro- 
slavery  character  of  the  Constitution  of  the  United  States, 
also  the  non-voting  principle  of  which  he  was  the  known 
and  distinguished  advocate.  With  him,  I  held  it  to  be 
the  first  duty  of  the  non-slaveholding  States  to  dissolve 
the  union  with  the  slaveholding  States,  and  hence  my 
cry,  like  his,  was  "  No  union  with  slaveholders."  With 
these  views  I  came  into  western  New  York,  and  during 
the  first  four  years  of  my  labors  here  I  advocated  them 
with  pen  and  tongue  to  the  best  of  my  ability.  After  a 
time,  a  careful  reconsideration  of  tlie  subject  convinced 
me  that  there  was  no  necessity  for  dissolving  the  "  union 
between  the  northern  and  southern  States  "  ;  that  to  seek 
this  dissolution  was  no  part  of  my  duty  as  an  abolitionist ; 
that  to  abstain  from  voting  was  to  refuse  to  exercise  a 
legitimate  and  powerful  means  for  abolishing  slavery  ; 
and  that  the  Constitution  of  the  United  States  not  only 
contained  no  guarantees  in  favor  of  slavery,  but,  on  the 
contrary,  was  in  its  letter  and  spirit  an  anti-slavery 
instrument,  demanding  the  abolition  of  slavery  as  a  con- 
dition of  its  own  existence  as  the  supreme  law  of  the 

This  radical  change  in  my  opinions  produced  a  corres- 
ponding change  in  my  action.  To  those  with  whom  I 
had  been  in  agreement  and  in  sympathy,  I  came  to  be  in 
opposition.  What  they  held  to  be  great  and  important 
truth  I  now  looked  upon  as  a  dangerous  error.     A  very 

THE  author's  argument.  823 

natural,  but  to  me  a  very  painful  thing,  now  happened. 
Those  who  could  not  see  any  honest  reasons  for  changing 
their  views,  as  I  had  done,  could  not  easily  see  any  such 
reasons  for  my  change,  and  the  common  punishment  of 
apostates  was  mine. 

My  first  opinions  were  naturally  derived  and  honestly 
entertained.  Brought  directly,  when  I  escaped  from 
slavery,  into  contact  with  abolitionists  who  regarded  the 
Constitution  as  a  slaveholding  instrument,  and  finding 
their  views  supported  by  the  united  and  entire  history  of 
every  department  of  the  government,  it  is  not  strange  that 
I  assumed  the  Constitution  to  be  just  what  these  friends 
made  it  seem  to  be.  I  was  bound,  not  only  by  their 
superior  knowledge,  to  take  their  opinions  in  respect 
to  this  subject,  as  the  true  ones,  but  also  because  I 
had  no  means  of  showing  their  unsoundness.  But  for 
the  responsibility  of  conducting  a  public  journal,  and  the 
necessity  imposed  upon  me  of  meeting  opposite  views 
from  abolitionists  outside  of  New  England,  I  should  in 
all  probability  have  remained  firm  in  my  disunion  views. 
My  new  circumstances  compelled  me  to  re-think  the  whole 
subject,  and  study  with  some  care  not  only  the  just  and 
proper  rules  of  legal  interpretation,  but  the  origin,  design, 
nature,  rights,  powers,  and  duties  of  civil  governments, 
and  also  the  relations  which  human  beings  sustain  to  it. 
By  such  a  course  of  thought  and  reading  I  was  conducted 
to  the  conclusion  that  the  Constitution  of  the  United 
States — inaugurated  to  ''  form  a  more  perfect  union, 
establish  justice,  insure  domestic  tranquility,  provide  for 
the  common  defense,  promote  the  general  welfare,  and 
secure  the  blessings  of  liberty " — could  not  well  have 
been  designed  at  the  same  time  to  maintain  and  perpetu- 
ate a  system  of  rapine  and  murder  like  slavery,  especially 
as  not  one  word  can  be  found  in  the  Constitution  to 
authorize  such  a  belief.     Then,  again,  if  the  declared  pur- 

32-4  MRS.   JULIA   CROFTS. 

poses  of  an  instrument  are  to  govern  the  meaning  of  all 
its  parts  and  details,  as  they  clearly  should,  the  Constitu- 
tion of  our  country  is  our  warrant  for  the  abolition  of 
slavery  in  every  State  of  the  Union.  It  would  require 
much  time  and  space  to  set  forth  the  arguments  which 
demonstrated  to  my  mind  the  unconstitutionality  of 
slavery;  but  being  convinced  of  the  fact  my  duty  was 
plain  upon  this  point  in  the  further  conduct  of  my  paper. 
The  North  Star  was  a  large  sheet,  published  weekly,  at  a 
cost  of  $80  per  week,  and  an  average  circulation  of  3,000 
subscribers.  There  were  many  times  w^hen,  in  my  expe- 
rience as  editor  and  publisher,  I  was  very  hard  pressed 
for  money,  but  by  one  means  or  another  I  succeeded  so 
well  as  to  keep  my  pecuniary  engagements,  and  to  keep 
my  anti-slavery  banner  steadily  flying  during  all  the  con- 
flict from  the  autumn  of  1847  till  the  union  of  the  States 
was  assured  and  emancipation  was  a  fact  accomplished. 
I  had  friends  abroad  as  well  as  at  home  who  helped  me 
liberally.  I  can  never  be  too  grateful  to  E>ev.  Russell 
Laut  Carpenter  and  to  Mrs.  Carpenter  for  the  moral  and 
material  aid  they  tendered  me  through  all  the  vicissi- 
tudes of  my  paper  enterprise.  But  to  no  one  person 
was  I  more  indebted  for  substantial  assistance  than  to 
Mrs.  Julia  Griffiths  Crofts.  She  came  to  my  relief  when 
my  paper  had  nearly  absorbed  all  my  means,  and  I  was 
heavily  in  debt,  and  when  I  had  mortgaged  my  house  to 
raise  money  to  meet  current  expenses ;  and  by  her  ener- 
getic and  effective  management  in  a  single  year  enabled 
me  to  extend  the  circulation  of  my  paper  from  2,000  to 
4,000  copies,  pay  off  the  debts  and  lift  the  mortgage  from 
my  house.  Her  industry  was  equal  to  her  devotion.  She 
seemed  to  rise  with  CA'ery  emergency,  and  her  resources 
appeared  inexhaustible.  I  shall  never  cease  to  remember 
with  sincere  gratitude  the  assistance  rendered  me  by  this 
noble  lady,  and  I  mention  her  here  in  the  desire  in  some 

NEW   FRIENDS.  325 

humble  measure  to  "  give  honor  to  whom  honor  is  due." 
During  tlie  first  three  or  four  years  my  paper  was  pub- 
lished under  the  name  of  the  North  Star.  It  was  subse- 
quently changed  to  Frederick  Douglass's  Paper^  in  order 
to  distinguish  it  from  the  many  papers  with  "Stars"  in 
their  titles.  There  were  "  North  Stars,"  "  Morning  Stars  " 
"  Evening  Stars,"  and  I  know  not  how  many  other  stars 
in  the  newspaper  firmament,  and  some  confusion  arose 
naturally  enough  in  distinguishing  between  them;  for 
this  reason,  and  also  because  some  of  these  stars  were 
older  than  my  star,  I  felt  that  mine,  hot  theirs,  ought  to 
be  the  one  to  "  go  out." 

Among  my  friends  in  this  country,  who  helped  me  in 
my  earlier  efforts  to  maintain  my  paper,  I  may  proudly 
count  such  men  as  the  late  Hon.  Gerrit  Smith,  and  Chief- 
Justice  Chase,  Hon.  Horace  Mann,  Hon.  Joshua  E,.  Gid- 
dings,  Hon.  Charles  Sumner,  Hon.  John  G.  Palfry,  Hon. 
Wm.  H.  Seward,  Rev.  Samuel  J.  May,  and  many  others, 
who  though  of  lesser  note  were  equally  devoted  to  my 
cause.  Among  these  latter  ones  were  Isaac  and  Amy 
Post,  William  and  Mary  Hallowell,  Asa  and  Hulda  An- 
thony, and  indeed  all  the  committee  of  the  Western  New 
York  Anti-Slavery  Society.  They  held  festivals  and  fairs 
to  raise  money,  and  assisted  me  in  every  other  possible 
way  to  keep  my  paper  in  circulation,  while  I  was  a  non- 
voting abolitionist,  but  withdrew  from  me  when  I  became 
a  voting  abolitionist.  For  a  time  the  withdrawal  of  their 
cooperation  embarrassed  me  very  much,  but  soon  another 
class  of  friends  was  raised  up  for  me,  chief  amongst 
whom  were  the  Porter  family  of  Rochester.  The  late 
Samuel  D.  Porter  and  his  wife  Susan  F.  Porter,  and  his 
sisters,  Maria  and  Elmira  Porter,  deserve  grateful  men- 
tion as  among  my  steadfast  friends,  who  did  much  in  the 
way  of  supplying  pecuniary  aid. 

Of  course  there  were  moral  forces  operating  against  me 


in  Rochester,  as  well  as  material  ones.     There  were  those 
who  regarded  the  publication  of  a  "Negro  paper"  in  that 
beautiful  cit}^  as  a  blemish  and  a  misfortune.     The  New 
York  Herald^  true  to  the  spii'it  of  the  times,  counselled 
the  people  of  the  place  to  throw  my  printing-press  into 
Lake  Ontario  and  to  banish  me  to  Canada,  and,  while 
they  were  not  quite  prepared  for  this  violence,  it  was 
plain  that  many  of  them  did  not  well  relish  my  presence 
amongst  them.     This  feeling,  however,  wore  away  grad- 
ually, as  the  people  knew  more  of  me  and  my  works.     I 
lectured  every  Sunday  evening  during  an  entire  winter  in 
the  beautiful  Corinthian  Hall,  then  owned  by  Wm.  R. 
Reynolds,  Esq.,  who,  though  he  was  not  an  abolitionist, 
w^as  a  lover  of  fair  play,  and  was  willing  to  allow  me  to 
be  heard.     If  in  these  lectures  I  did  not  make  abolition- 
ists, I  did  succeed  in  making  tolerant  the  moral  atmos- 
phere in  Rochester ;  so  much  so,  indeed,  that  I  came  to 
feel  as  much  at  home  there  as  I  had  ever  done  in  the 
most  friendly  parts  of  New  England.     I  had  been  at  work 
there  with  my  paper  but  a  few  years  before  colored  trav- 
elers told  me  that  they  felt  the  influence  of  my  labors 
when  they  came  within  fifty  miles.     I  did  not  rely  alone 
upon  what  I  could  do  by  the  paper,  but  would  write  all 
day,  then   take  a  train  to  Victor,  Farmington,  Canan- 
daigua,  Geneva,  Waterloo,  Batavia,  or  Buffalo,  or  else- 
where, and  speak  in  the  evening,  returning  home  after- 
wards or  early  in  the  morning,  to  be  again  at  my  desk 
writing  or  mailing  papers.     There  were  times  when  I 
almost   thought  my  Boston  friends  were  right  in   dis- 
suading me  from  my  newspaper  project.     But  looking 
back  to  those  niglits  and  days  of  toil  and  thought,  com- 
pelled often  to  do  work  for  wliich  I  had  no  educational 
preparation,  I  have  come  to  think  that,  under  the   cir- 
cumstances, it  Avas  the  best  school  possible  for  me.     It 
obliged  me  to  think  and  read,  it  taught  me  to  express  my 


thoughts  clearly,  and  was  perhaps  better  than  any  other 
course  I  could  have  adopted.  Besides,  it  made  it  neces- 
sary for  me  to  lean  upon  myself,  and  not  upon  the  heads 
of  our  Anti-Slavery  church,  to  be  a  principal,  and  not 
an  agent.  I  had  an  audience  to  speak  to  every  week,  and 
must  say  something  worth  their  hearing,  or  cease  to 
speak  altogether.  There  is  nothing  like  the  lash  and 
sting  of  necessity  to  make  a  man  work,  and  my  paper 
furnished  this  motive  power.  More  than  one  gentleman 
from  the  South,  when  stopping  at  Niagara,  came  to  see 
me,  that  they  might  know  for  themselves  if  I  could  indeed 
write,  having,  as  they  said,  believed  it  impossible  that  an 
uneducated  fugitive  slave  could  write  the  articles  attrib- 
uted to  me.  I  found  it  hard  to  get  credit  in  some  quar- 
ters either  for  what  I  wrote  or  what  I  said.  While  there 
was  nothing  very  profound  or  learned  in  either,  the  low 
estimate  of  Negro  possibilities  induced  the  belief  that 
both  my  editorials  and  my  speeches  were  written  by 
white  persons.  I  doubt  if  this  scepticism  does  not  still 
linger  in  the  minds  of  some  of  my  democratic  fellow- 

The  2d  of  June,  1872,  brought  me  a  very  grievous 
loss.  My  house  in  Rochester  was  burnt  to  the  ground, 
and  among  other  things  of  value,  twelve  volumes  of 
my  paper,  covering  the  period  from  1848  to  1860,  were 
devoured  by  the  flames.  I  have  never  been  able  to 
replace  them,  and  the  loss  is  immeasurable.  Only  a  few 
weeks  before,  I  had  been  invited  to  send  these  bound 
volumes  to  the  library  of  Harvard  University,  where 
they  would  have  been  preserved  in  a  fire-proof  building, 
and  the  result  of  my  procrastination  attests  the  wis- 
dom of  more  than  one  proverb.  Outside  the  years  em- 
braced in  the  late  tremendous  war,  there  had  been  no 
period  more  pregnant  with  great  events,  or  better  suited 
to  call  out  the  best  mental  and  moral  energies  of  men, 


than  that  covered  by  these  lost  volumes.  If  I  have  at 
any  time  said  or  written  that  which  is  worth  remember- 
ing or  repeating,  I  must  have  said  such  things  between 
the  years  1848  and  1860,  and  my  paper  was  a  chronicle 
of  most  of  what  I  said  during  that  time.  Within  that 
space  we  had  the  great  Free-Soil  Convention  at  Buffalo, 
the  Nomination  of  Martin  Van  Buren,  the  Fugitive-Slave 
Law,  the  7th  of  March  Speech  by  Daniel  Webster,  the 
Dred  Scott  decision,  the  repeal  of  the  Missouri  Compro- 
mise, the  Kansas  Nebraska  bill,  the  Border  war  in  Kan- 
sas, the  John  Brown  raid  upon  Harper's  Ferry,  and  a  part 
of  the  War  against  the  Rebellion,  with  much  else,  well 
calculated  to  fire  the  souls  of  men  having  one  spark  of 
liberty  and  patriotism  within  them.  I  have  only  frag- 
ments now  of  all  the  work  accomplished  during  these 
twelve  years,  and  must  cover  this  chasm  as  best  I  can 
from  memory,  and  the  incidental  items  which  1  am  able 
to  glean  from  various  sources.  Two  volumes  of  the 
North  Star  have  been  kindly  supplied  me,  by  my  friend, 
Marshall  Pierce,  of  Saco,  Me.  He  had  these  carefully 
preserved  and  bound  in  one  cover  and  sent  to  me  in 
Washington.  He  was  one  of  the  most  systematically 
careful  men  of  all  my  anti-slavery  friends,  for  I  doubt  if 
another  entire  volume  of  the  paper  exists. 

One  important  branch  of  my  anti-slavery  work  in 
Rochester,  in  addition  to  that  of  speaking  and  writing 
against  slavery,  must  not  be  forgotten  or  omitted.  My 
position  gave  me  the  chance  of  hitting  that  old  enemy 
some  telling  blows,  in  another  direction  than  these.  I 
was  on  the  southern  border  of  Lake  Ontario,  and  the 
Queen's  dominions  were  right  over  the  way — and  my 
prominence  as  an  abolitionist,  and  as  the  editor  of  an 
anti-  slavery  paper,  naturally  made  me  the  station-master 
and  conductor  of  the  underground  railroad  passing 
through    this    goodly    city.     Secrecy   and    concealment 

A   TWO-FORTY   GAIT.  829 

were  necessary  conditions  to  the  successful  operation  of 
this  railroad,  and  hence  its  prefix  "  underground."  Mj 
agency  was  all  tlie  more  exciting  and  interesting,  because 
not  altogether  free  from  danger.  I  could  take  no  step  in 
it  without  exposing  myself  to  fine  and  imprisonment,  for 
these  were  the  penalties  imposed  by  the  fugitive-slave 
law  for  feeding,  harboring,  or  otherwise  assisting  a  slave 
to  escape  from  his  master  ;  but,  in  face  of  this  fact,  I  can 
say  I  never  did  more  congenial,  attractive,  fascinating, 
and  satisfactory  work.  True,  as  a  means  of  destroying 
slavery,  it  was  like  an  attempt  to  bail  out  the  ocean  with 
a  teaspoon,  but  the  thought  that  there  was  one  less  slave, 
and  one  more  freeman — having  myself  been  a  slave,  and 
a  fugitive  slave — ^brought  to  my  heart  unspeakable  joy. 
On  one  occasion  I  had  eleven  fugitives  at  the  same  time 
under  my  roof,  and  it  was  necessary  for  them  to  remain 
with  me  until  I  could  collect  sufficient  money  to  get  them 
on  to  Canada.  It  was  the  largest  number  I  ever  had  at 
any  one  time,  and  I  had  some  difficulty  in  providing  so 
many  with  food  and  shelter,  but,  as  may  well  be  imagined, 
they  were  not  very,  fastidious  in  either  direction,  and 
were  well  content  with  very  plain  food,  and  a  strip  of 
carpet  on  the  floor  for  a  bed,  or  a  place  on  the  straw  in 
the  barn-loft. 

The  underground  railroad  had  many  branches ;  but 
that  one  with  which  I  was  connected  had  its  main  sta- 
tions in  Baltimore,  Wilmington,  Philadelphia,  New  York, 
Albany,  Syracuse,  Rochester,  and  St.  Catharines  (Can- 
ada). It  is  not  necessary  to  tell  who  were  the  principal 
agents  in  Baltimore ;  Thomas  Garrett  was  the  agent  in 
Wilmington  ;  Melloe  McKim,  William  Still,  Robert  Pur- 
vis, Edward  M.  Davis,  and  others  did  the  work  in  Phila- 
delphia ;  David  Ruggles,  Isaac  T.  Hopper,  Napolian,  and 
others,  in  New  York  city  ;  the  Misses  Mott  and  Stephen 
Myers  were  forwarders  from  Albany ;  Revs.  Samuel  J. 


May  and  J.  W.  Loguen  were  the  agents  in  Syracuse  ; 
and  J.  P.  Morris  and  myself  received  and  dispatclied 
passengers  from  Rochester  to  Canada,  where  they  were 
received  by  Rev.  Hiram  Wilson.  When  a  party  arrived 
in  Rochester  it  was  the  business  of  Mr.  Morris  and  my- 
self to  raise  funds  with  which  to  pay  their  passage  to  St. 
Catharines,  and  it  is  due  to  truth  to  state  that  we  seldom 
called  in  vain  upon  whig  or  democrat  for  help.  Men 
were  better  than  their  theology,  and  truer  to  humanity 
than  to  their  politics,  or  their  offices. 

On  one  occasion  while  a  slave  master  was  in  the  office 
of  a  United  States  commissioner,  procuring  the  papers 
necessary  for  the  arrest  and  rendition  of  three  young  men 
who  had  escaped  from  Maryland  (one  of  whom  was 
under  my  roof  at  the  time,  another  at  Farmington,  and 
the  other  at  work  on  the  farm  of  Asa  Anthony,  just  a 
little  outside  the  city  limits),  the  law  partner  of  the  com- 
missioner, then  a  distinguished  democrat,  sought  me  out, 
and  told  me  what  was  going  on  in  his  office,  and  urged 
me  by  all  means  to  get  these  young  men  out  of  the  way 
of  their  pursuers  and  claimants.  Of  course  no  time  was 
to  be  lost.  A  swift  horseman  was  dispatched  to  Farming- 
ton,  eighteen  miles  distant,  another  to  Asa  Anthony's 
farm,  about  three  miles,  and  another  to  my  house  on  the 
south  side  of  the  city,  and  before  the  papers  could  be 
served  all  three  of  the  young  men  were  on  the  free  waves 
of  Lake  Ontario,  bound  to  Canada.  In  writing  to  their 
old  master,  they  had  dated  their  letter  at  Rochester, 
though  they  had  taken  the  precaution  to  send  it  to 
Canada  to  be  mailed,  but  this  blunder  in  the  date  had 
betrayed  their  whereabouts,  so  that  the  hunters  were  at 
once  on  their  tracks. 

So  numerous  were  the  fugitives  passing  through  Roches- 
ter that  I  was  obliged  at  last  to  appeal  to  my  British 
friends  for  the  means  of  sending  them  on  their  way,  and 


when  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Carpenter  and  Mrs.  Croffts  took  the 
matter  in  hand,  I  had  never  any  further  trouble  in  that 
respect.  When  slavery  was  abolished  I  wrote  to  Mrs. 
Carpenter,  congratulating  her  that  she  was  relieved  of 
the  work  of  raising  funds  for  such  purposes,  and  the 
characteristic  reply  of  that  lady  was  that  she  had  been 
very  glad  to  do  what  she  had  done,  and  had  no  wish  for 

My  pathway  was  not  entirely  free  from  thorns  in  Roches- 
ter, and  the  wounds  and  pains  inflicted  by  them  were 
perhaps  much  less  easily  borne,  because  of  my  exemption 
from  such  annoyances  while  in  England.  Men  can  in 
time  become  accustomed  to  almost  anything,  even  to 
being  insulted  and  ostracised,  but  such  treatment  comes 
hard  at  first,  and  when  to  some  extent  unlooked  for. 
The  vulgar  prejudice  against  color,  so  common  to  Ameri- 
cans, met  me  in  several  disagreeable  forms.  A  seminary 
for  young  ladies  and  misses,  under  the  auspices  of  Miss 
Tracy,  was  near  my  house  on  Alexander  street,  and 
desirous  of  having  my  daughter  educated  like  the  daugh- 
ters of  other  men,  I  applied  to  Miss  Tracy  for  her  admis- 
sion to  her  school.  All  seemed  fair,  and  the  child  was 
duly  sent  to  "  Tracy  Seminary,"  and  I  went  about  my 
business  happy  in  the  thought  that  she  was  in  the  way  of 
a  refined  and  Christian  education.  Several  weeks  elapsed 
before  I  knew  how  completely  I  was  mistaken.  The 
little  girl  came  home  to  me  one  day  and  told  me  she  was 
lonely  in  that  school ;  that  she  was  in  fact  kept  in  soli- 
tary confinement ;  that  she  was  not  allowed  in  the  room 
with  the  other  girls,  nor  to  go  into  the  yard  when  they 
went  out ;  that  she  was  kept  in  a  room  by  herself  and  not 
permitted  to  be  seen  or  heard  by  the  others.  No  man 
with  the  feeling  of  a  parent  could  be  less  than  moved  by 
such  a  revelation,  and  I  confess  that  I  was  shocked, 
grieved,  and  indignant.     I  went  at  once  to  Miss  Tracy 


to  ascertain  if  wliat  I  had  heard  was  true,  and  was  coolly 
told  it  was,  and  the  miserable  plea  was  offered  that  it 
would  have  injured  her  school  if  she  had  done  otherwise. 
I  told  her  she  should  have  told  me  so  at  the  beginning, 
but  I  did  not  believe  that  any  girl  in  the  school  would  be 
opposed  to  the  presence  of  my  daughter,  and  that  I  should 
be  glad  to  have  the  question  submitted  to  them.  She 
consented  to  this,  and  to  the  credit  of  the  young  ladies 
not  one  made  objection.  Not  satisfied  with  this  verdict 
of  the  natural  and  uncorrupted  sense  of  justice  and  hu- 
manity of  these  young  ladies,  Miss  Tracy  insisted  that 
the  parents  must  be  consulted,  and  if  one  of  them  objected 
she  should  not  admit  my  child  to  the  same  apartment  and 
privileges  of  the  other  pupils.  One  parent  only  had  the 
cruelty  to  object,  and  he  was  Mr.  Horatio  G.  Warner,  a 
democratic  editor,  and  upon  his  adverse  conclusion  my 
daughter  was  excluded  from  "  Tracy  Seminary."  Of 
course  Miss  Tracy  was  a  devout  Christian  lady  after  the 
fashion  of  the  time  and  locality,  in  good  and  regular 
standing  in  the  church. 

My  troubles  attending  the  education  of  my  children 
were  not  to  end  here.  They  were  not  allowed  in  the 
public  school  in  the  district  in  which  I  lived,  owned  prop- 
erty, and  paid  taxes,  but  were  compelled,  if  they  w^ent  to 
a  public  school,  to  go  over  to  the  other  side  of  the  city  to 
an  inferior  colored  school.  I  hardly  need  say  that  I  was 
not  prepared  to  submit  tamely  to  this  proscription,  any 
more  than  I  had  been  to  submit  to  slavery,  so  I  had  them 
taught  at  home  for  a  while  by  Miss  Thayer.  Meanwhile 
I  went  to  the  people  with  the  question,  and  created 
considerable  agitation.  I  sought  and  obtained  a  hearing 
before  the  Board  of  Education,  and  after  repeated  efforts 
with  voice  and  pen  the  doors  of  the  public  schools  were 
opened  and  colored  children  were  permitted  to  attend 
them  in  common  with  others. 


There  were  barriers  erected  against  colored  people  in 
most  other  places  of  instruction  and  amusement  in  the 
city,  and  until  I  went  there  they  were  imposed  without 
any  apparent  sense  of  injustice  and  wrong,  and  submitted 
to  in  silence ;  but  one  by  one  they  have  gradually  been 
removed,  and  colored  people  now  enter  freely  all  places  of 
public  resort  without  hindrance  or  observation.  This 
change  has  not  been  wholly  effected  by  me.  From  the 
first  I  was  cheered  on  and  supported  in  my  demands  for 
equal  rights  by  such  respectable  citizens  as  Isaac  Post, 
Wm.  Hallowell,  Samuel  D.  Porter,  Wm.  C.  Bloss,  Benj. 
Fish,  Asa  Anthony,  and  many  other  good  and  true  men 
of  Rochester. 

Notwithstanding  what  I  have  said  of  the  adverse  feel- 
ing exhibited  by  some  of  its  citizens  at  my  selection  of 
Rochester  as  the  place  to  establish  my  paper,  and  the 
trouble  in  educational  matters  just  referred  to,  that  selec- 
tion was  in  many  respects  very  fortunate.  The  city  was 
and  still  is  the  center  of  a  virtuous,  intelligent,  enterpris- 
ing, liberal,  and  growing  population.  The  surrounding 
country  is  remarkable  for  its  fertility,  and  the  city  itself 
possesses  one  of  the  finest  water-powers  in  the  world.  It 
is  on  the  line  of  the  New  York  Central  railroad — a  line 
that,  with  its  connections,  spans  the  whole  country.  Its 
people  were  industrious  and  in  comfortable  circumstances 
— not  so  rich  as  to  be  indifferent  to  the  claims  of  human- 
ity, and  not  so  poor  as  to  be  unable  to  help  any  good 
cause  which  commanded  the  approval  of  their  judgment. 

The  ground  had  been  measurably  prepared  for  me  by 
the  labors  of  others — notably  by  Hon.  Myron  Holley, 
whose  monument  of  enduring  marble  now  stands  in  the 
beautiful  cemetery  at  Mount  Hope  upon  an  eminence  be- 
fitting his  noble  character.  I  know  of  no  place  in  the 
Union  where  I  could  have  located  at  the  time  with 
less  resistance,  or  received  a  larger  measure  of  sympathy 

384  AT    HOME    IN    ROCHESTER. 

and  cooperation,  and  I  now  look  back  to  my  life  and 
labors  there  witli  unalloyed  satisfaction,  and  having  spent 
a  quarter  of  a  century  among  its  people,  I  shall  always 
feel  more  at  home  there  than  anywhere  else  in  this 




My  first  meeting  with  Capt.  Brown — The  Free-Soil  movement — Col- 
ored Convention — Uncle  Tom's  Cabin — Industrial  School  for  col- 
ored people — Letter  to  Mrs.  H.  B.  Stowe. 

ABOUT  the  time  I  began  my. enterprise  in  Rochester 
I  chanced  to  spend  a  night  and  a  day  under  the 
roof  of  a  man  whose  character  and  conversation,  and 
whose  objects  and  aims  in  life,  made  a  very  deep  impres- 
sion upon  my  mind  and  heart.  His  name  had  been  men- 
tioned to  me  by  several  prominent  colored  men,  among 
whom  were  the  Rev.  Henry  Highland  Garnet  and  J.  W. 
Loguen.  In  speaking  of  him  their  voices  would  drop  to 
a  whisper,  and  what  they  said  of  him  made  me  very  eager 
to  see  and  know  him.  Fortunately,  I  was  invited  to  see 
him  in  his  own  house.  At  the  time  to  which  I  now  refer 
this  man  was  a  respectable  merchant  in  a  populous 
and  thriving  city,  and  our  first  place  of  meeting  was  at 
his  store.  This  was  a  substantial  brick  building  on  a 
prominent,  busy  street.  A  glance  at  the  interior,  as  well 
as  at  the  massive  walls  without,  gave  me  the  impression 
that  the  owner  must  be  a  man  of  considerable  wealth. 
My  welcome  was  all  that  I  could  have  asked.  Every 
member  of  the  family,  young  and  old,  seemed  glad  to  see 
me,  and  I  was  made  much  at  home  in  a  very  little  while. 
I  was,  however,  a  little  disappointed  with  the  appearance 
of  the  house  and  its  location.  After  seeing  the  fine  store 
I  was  prepared  to  see  a  fine  residence  in  an  eligible  local- 
ity, but  this  conclusion  was  completely  dispelled  by  actual 
observation.      In  fact,  the  house  was  neither  commodious 



338  JOHN   BROWN. 

nor  elegant,  nor  its  situation  desirable.  It  was  a  small 
wooden  building  on  a  back  street,  in  a  neighborhood 
chiefly  occupied  by  laboring  men  and  mechanics  ;  respect- 
able enough,  to  be  sure,  but  not  quite  the  place,  I  thought, 
where  one  would  look  for  the  residence  of  a  flourishing 
and  successful  merchant.  Plain  as  was  the  outside 
of  this  man's  house,  the  inside  was  plainer.  Its  furni- 
ture would  have  satisfied  a  Spartan.  It  would  take  longer 
to  tell  what  was  not  in  this  house  than  what  was  in 
it.  There  was  an  air  of  j^lainness  about  it  which  almost 
suggested  destitution.  My  first  meal  passed  under  the 
misnomer  of  tea,  though  there  was  nothing  about  it 
resembling  the  usual  significance  of  that  term.  It  con- 
sisted of  beef-soup,  cabbage,  and  potatoes — a  meal  such  as 
a  man  might  relish  after  following  the  plow  all  day  or 
performing  a  forced  march  of  a  dozen  miles  over  a  rough 
road  in  frosty  weather.  Innocent  of  paint,  veneering, 
varnish,  or  table-cloth,  the  table  announced  itself  unmis- 
takably of  pine  and  of  the  plainest  workmanship.  There 
was  no  hired  help  visible.  The  mother,  daughters,  and 
sons  did  the  serving,  and  did  it  well.  They  were  evident- 
ly used  to  it,  and  had  no  thought  of  any  impropriety  or 
degradation  in  being  their  own  servants.  It  is  said  that 
a  house  in  some  measure  reflects  the  character  of  its  oc- 
cupants ;  this  one  certainly  did.  In  it  there  were  no 
disguises,  no  illusions,  no  make-believes.  Everything 
implied  stern  truth,  solid  purpose,  and  rigid  economy.  I 
was  not  long  in  company  with  the  master  of  this  house 
before  I  discovered  that  he  was  indeed  the  master  of  it, 
and  was  likely  to  become  mine  too  if  I  stayed  long  enough 
with  him.  He  fulfilled  St.  Paul's  idea  of  the  head  of  the 
family.  His  wife  believed  in  him,  and  his  children 
observed  him  with  reverence.  Whenever  he  spoke  his 
words  commanded  earnest  attention.  His  arguments, 
which  I  ventured  at  some  points  to  oppose,  seemed  to 


convince  all ;  his  appeals  touched  all,  and  his  will  im- 
pressed all.  Certainly  I  never  felt  myself  in  the  presence 
of  a  stronger  religious  influence  than  while  in  this  man's 

In  person  he  was  lean,  strong,  and  sinewy,  of  the  best 
New  England  mold,  built  for  times  of  trouble,  fitted  to 
grapple  with  the  flintiest  hardships.  Clad  in  plain  Amer- 
ican woolen,  shod  in  boots  of  cowhide  leather,  and  wear- 
ing a  cravat  of  the  same  substantial  material,  under  six 
feet  high,  less  than  150  pounds  in  weight,  aged  about 
fifty,  he  presented  a  figure  straight  and  symmetrical  as  a 
mountain  pine.  His  bearing  was  singularly  impressive. 
His  head  was  not  large,  but  compact  and  high.  His  hair 
was  coarse,  strong,  slightly  gray  and  closely  trimmed, 
and  grew  low  on  his  forehead.  His  face  was  smoothly 
shaved,  and  revealed  a  strong,  square  mouth,  supported 
by  a  broad  and  prominent  chin.  His  eyes  were  bluish- 
gray,  and  in  conversation  they  were  full  of  light  and  fire. 
When  on  the  street,  he  moved  with  a  long,  springing, 
race-horse  step,  absorbed  by  his  own  reflections,  neither 
seeking  nor  shunning  observation.  Such  was  the  man 
whose  name  I  had  heard  in  whispers ;  such  was  the  spirit 
of  his  house  and  family ;  such  was  the  house  in  which  he 
lived ;  and  such  was  Captain  John  Brown,  whose  name 
has  now  passed  into  history,  as  one  of  the  most  marked 
characters  and  greatest  heroes  known  to  American  fame. 

After  the  strong  meal  already  described.  Captain  Brown 
cautiously  approached  the  subject  which  he  wished  to 
bring  to  my  attention;  for  he  seemed  to  apprehend  oppo- 
sition to  his  views.  He  denounced  slavery  in  look  and 
language  fierce  and  bitter,  thought  that  slaveholders  had 
forfeited  their  right  to  live,  that  the  slaves  had  the  right 
to  gain  their  liberty  in  any  way  they  could,  did  not  believe 
that  moral  suasion  would  ever  liberate  the  slave,  or  that 
political  action  would  abolish  the  system.     He  said  that 

340  HIS  PLANS. 

he  had  long  had  a  plan  which  could  accomplish  this  end, 
and  he  had  invited  me  to  his  house  to  lay  that  plan  before 
me.     He  said  he  had  been  for  some  time  looking  for 
colored  men  to  whom  he  could  safely  reveal  his  secret, 
and  at  times  he  had  almost  despaired  of  finding  such 
men ;  but  that  now  he  was  encouraged,  for  he  saw  heads 
of  such  rising  up  in  all  directions.     He  had  observed  my 
course  at  home  and  abroad,  and  he  wanted  my  coopera- 
tion.    His  plan  as  it  then  lay  in  his  mind  had  much  to 
commend  it.     It  did  not,  as  some  suppose,  contemplate  a 
general  rising  among  the  slaves,  and  a  general  slaughter 
of  the  slave-masters.     An  insurrection,  he  thought,  would 
only  defeat  the  object ;  but  his  plan  did  contemplate  the 
creating  of  an  armed  force  which  should  act  in  the  very 
heart  of  the  South.     He  was  not  averse  to  the  shedding 
of  blood,  and  thought  the  practice  of  carrying  arms  would 
be  a  good  one  for  the  colored  people  to  adopt,  as  it  would 
give  them  a  sense  of  their  manhood.     No  people,  he  said, 
could  have  self-respect,  or  be  respected,  who  would  not 
fight  for  their  freedom.     He  called  my  attention  to  a 
map  of  the  United  States,  and  pointed  out  to  me  the  far- 
reaching  Alleghanies,  which  stretch  away  from  the  bor- 
ders of  New  York  into  the   Southern   States.     "  These 
mountains,"  he  said,  "  are  the   basis  of  my  plan.     God 
has  given  the  strength  of  the  hills  to  freedom ;  they  were 
placed  here  for  the  emancipation  of  the  negro  race;  they 
are  full  of  natural  forts,  where  one  man  for  defense  will 
be  equal  to  a  hundred  for  attack ;  they  are  full  also  of 
good  hiding-places,  where  large   numbers  of  brave  men 
could  be  concealed,  and  baffle  and  elude  pursuit  for  a 
long  time.     I  know  these  mountains  well,  and  could  take 
a  body  of  men  into  them  and  keep  them  there  despite  of 
all  the  efforts  of  Virginia  to  dislodge  them.     The  true 
object  to  be  sought  is  first  of  all  to  destroy  the  money 
value  of  slave  property;  and  that  can  only  be  done  by 

JOHN  brown's  plan.  341 

rendering  such  property  insecure.  My  plan,  then,  is  to 
take  at  first  about  twenty -five  picked  men,  and  begin  on 
a  small  scale ;  supply  them  arms  and  ammunition,  post 
them  in  squads  of  fives  on  a  line  of  twenty-five  miles,  the 
most  persuasive  and  judicious  of  whom  shall  go  down  to 
the  fields  from  time  to  time,  as  opportunity  offers,  and 
induce  the  slaves  to  join  them,  seeking  and  selecting  the 
most  restless  and  daring." 

He  saw  that  in  this  part  of  the  work  the  utmost  care 
must  be  used  to  avoid  treachery  and  disclosure.  Only 
the  most  conscientious  and  skillful  should  be  sent  on  this 
perilous  duty;  with  care  and  enterprise  he  thought  he 
could  soon  gather  a  force  of  one  hundred  hardy  men,  men 
who  would  be  content  to  lead  the  free  and  adventurous 
life  to  which  he  proposed  to  train  them;  when  these  were 
properly  drilled,  and  each  man  had  found  the  place  for 
which  he  was  best  suited,  they  would  begin  work  in  ear- 
nest; they  would  run  off  the  slaves  in  large  numbers, 
retain  the  brave  and  strong  ones  in  the  mountains,  and 
send  the  weak  and  timid  to  the  north  by  the  underground 
railroad ;  his  operations  would  be  enlarged  with  increas- 
ing numbers,  and  would  not  be  confined  to  one  locality. 

When  I  asked  him,  how  he  would  support  these  men, 
he  said  emphatically,  he  would  subsist  them  upon  the 
enemy.  Slavery  was  a  state  of  war,  and  the  slave  had  a 
right  to  anything  necessary  to  his  freedom.  "  But,"  said 
I,  "  suppose  you  succeed  in  running  off  a  few  slaves,  and 
thus  impress  the  Virginia  slaveholders  with  a  sense  of 
insecurity  in  their  slaves,  the  effect  will  be  only  to  make 
them  sell  their  slaves  further  south."  "That,"  said  he, 
"  will  be  first  what  I  want  to  do ;  then  I  would  follow 
them  up.  If  we  could  drive  slavery  out  of  one  county^  it 
would  be  a  great  gain;  it  would  weaken  the  system 
throughout  the  State."  "  But  they  would  employ  blood- 
hounds to  hunt  you  out  of  the  mountains."     "  That  they 

342  WAS   WILLING   TO   LAY   DOWN    HIS   LIFE. 

might  attempt,"  said  he,  "  but  the  chances  are,  we  should 
whip  them,  and  when  we  should  have  whipt  one  squad, 
they  would  be  careful  how  they  pursued."  "  But  you 
might  be  surrounded  and  cut  off  from  your  provisions  or 
means  of  subsistence."  He  thought  that  could  not  be 
done  so  they  could  not  cut  their  way  out,  but  even  if  the 
worst  came  he  could  but  be  killed,  and  he  had-  no  better 
use  for  his  life  than  to  lay  it  down  in  the  cause  of  the 
slave.  When  I  suggested  that  we  might  convert  the 
slaveholders,  he  became  much  excited,  and  said  that 
could  nevei*  be,  "  he  knew  their  proud  hearts  and  that 
they  would  never  be  induced  to  give  up  their  slaves,  until 
they  felt  a  big  stick  about  their  heads."  He  observed 
that  I  might  have  noticed  the  simple  manner  in  which  he 
lived,  adding  that  he  had  adopted  this  method  in  order  to 
save  money  to  carry  out  his  purposes.  This  was  said  in 
no  boastful  tone,  for  he  felt  that  he  had  delayed  already 
too  long,  and  had  no  room  to  boast  either  his  zeal  or  his 
self-denial.  Had  some  men  made  such  display  of  rigid 
virtue,  I  should  have  rejected  it,  as  affected,  false,  and 
hypocritical,  but  in  John  Brown,  I  felt  it  to  be  real  as 
iron  or  granite.  From  this  night  spent  with  John  Brown 
in  Springfield,  Mass.,  1847,  while  I  continued  to  write 
and  speak  against  slavery,  I  became  all  the  same  less 
hopeful  of  its  peaceful  abolition.  My  utterances  became 
more  and  more  tinged  by  the  color  of  this  man's  strong 
impressions.  Speaking  at  an  anti-slavery  convention  in 
Salem,  Ohio,  I  expressed  this  apprehension  that  slavery 
could  only  be  destroyed  by  blood-shed,  when  I  was  sud- 
denly and  sharply  interrupted  by  my  good  old  friend 
Sojourner  Truth  with  the  question,  "  Frederick,  is  God 
dead  ? "  "  No,"  I  answered,  "  and  because  God  is  not 
dead  slavery  can  only  end  in  blood."  My  quaint  old 
sister  was  of  the  Garrison  school  of  non-resistants,  and 
was   shocked   at  my  sanguinary  doctrine,  but   she   too 


became  an  advocate  of  the  sword,  when  the  war  for  the 
maintenance  of  the  Union  was  declared. 

In  1848  it  was  my  privilege  to  attend,  and  in  some 
measure  to  participate  in  the  famous  Free-Soil  Conven- 
tion held  in  Buffalo,  New  York.  It  was  a  vast  and 
variegated  assemblage,  composed  of  persons  from  all 
sections  of  the  North,  and  may  be  said  to  have  formed 
a  new  departure  in  the  history  of  forces  organized  to 
resist  the  growing  and  aggressive  demands  of  slavery 
and  the  slave  power.  Until  this  Buffalo  convention, 
anti-slavery  agencies  had  been  mainly  directed  to  the 
work  of  changing  public  sentiment  by  exposing  through 
the  press  and  on  the  platform  the  nature  of  the  slave 
system.  Anti-slavery  thus  far  had  only  been  sheet-light- 
ning ;  the  Buffalo  convention  sought  to  make  it  a  thunder- 
bolt. It  is  true  the  Liberty  party,  a  political  organization, 
had  been  in  existence  since  1840,  when  it  cast  seven 
thousand  votes  for  James  G.  Birney,  a  former  slaveholder, 
but  who,  in  obedience  to  an  enlightened  conscience,  had 
nobly  emancipated  his  slaves,  and  was  now  devoting  his 
time  and  talents  to  the  overthrow  of  slavery.  It  is  true 
that  this  little  party  of  brave  men  had  increased  their 
numbers  at  one  time  to  sixty  thousand  voters.  It,  however, 
had  now  apparently  reached  its  culminating  point,  and 
was  no  longer  able  to  attract  itself  and  combine  all  the 
available  elements  at  the  North  capable  of  being  mar- 
shaled against  the  growing  and  aggressive  measures  and 
aims  of  the  slave  power.  There  were  many  in  the  old 
Whig  party  known  as  Conscience-Whigs,  and  in  the  Dem- 
ocratic party  known  as  Barn-burners  and  Free  Democrats, 
who  were  anti-slavery  in  sentiment  and  utterly  opposed 
to  the  extension  of  the  slave  system  to  territory  hitherto 
uncursed  by  its  presence,  but  who,  nevertheless,  were  not 
willing  to  join  the  Liberty  party.  It  was  held  to  be 
deficient  in  numbers  and  wanting  in  prestige.     Its  fate 


was  the  fate  of  all  pioneers.  The  work  it  had  been  re- 
quired to  perform  had  exposed  it  to  assaults  from  all 
sides,  and  it  wore  on  its  front  the  ugly  marks  of  conflict. 
It  was  unpopular  for  its  very  fidelity  to  the  cause  of  lib- 
erty and  justice.  No  wonder  that  some  of  its  members, 
such  as  Gerrit  Smith,  William  Goodell,  Beriah  Green, 
and  Julius  Lemoyne,  refused  to  quit  the  old  for  the  new. 
They  felt  that  the  Free-Soil  party  was  a  step  backward,  a 
lowering  of  the  standard  ;  that  the  people  should  come  to 
them,  not  they  to  the  people.  The  party  which  had  been 
good  enough  for  them  ought  to  be  good  enough  for 
all  others.  Events,  however,  overruled  this  reasoning. 
The  conviction  became  general  that  the  time  had  come  for 
a  new  organization  which  should  embrace  all  who  were  in 
any  manner  opposed  to  slavery  and  the  slave  power,  and 
this  Buffalo  Free-Soil  convention  was  the  result  of  that 
conviction.  It  is  easy  to  say  that  this  or  that  measure 
would  have  been  wiser  and  better  than  the  one  adopted. 
But  any  measure  is  vindicated  by  its  necessity  and  results. 
It  was  impossible  for  the  mountain  to  go  to  Mahomet,  or 
for  the  Free-Soil  element  to  go  to  the  old  Liberty  party ; 
so  the  latter  went  to  the  former.  "  All  is  well  that  ends 
well."  This  Buffalo  convention  of  free-soilers,  however 
low  was  their  standard,  did  lay  the  foundation  of  a  grand 
superstructure.  It  was  a  powerful  link  in  the  chain 
of  events  by  whicli  the  slave  system  has  been  abolished, 
the  slave  emancipated,  and  the  country  saved  from  dis- 

It  is  nothing  against  the  actors  in  this  new  movement 
that  they  did  not  see  the  end  from  the  beginning ;  that 
they  did  not  at  first  take  the  high  ground  that  further  on 
in  the  conflict  their  successors  felt  themselves  called  upon 
to  take,  or  that  their  Free-Soil  party,  like  the  old  Liberty 
party,  was  ultimately  required  to  step  aside  and  make 
room  for  the  great  Republican  party.      In  all  this  and 

CASS   AND    CALHOUN.  345 

more  it  illustrates  the  experience  of  reform  in  all  ages,  and 
conforms  to  the  laws  of  human  progress.  Measures 
change,  principles  never. 

I  was  not  the  only  colored  man  well  known  to  the  coun- 
try who  was  present  at  this  convention.  Samuel  Ringold 
Ward,  Henry  Highland  Garnet,  Charles  L.  Remond,  and 
Henry  Bibb  were  there  and  made  speeches  which* 
were  received  with  surprise  and  gratification  by  the  thou- 
sands there  assembled.  Asa  colored  man  I  felt  greatly 
encouraged  and  strengthened  for  my  cause  while  listening 
to  these  men,  in  the  presence  of  the  ablest  men  of  the 
Caucasian  race.  Mr.  Ward  especially  attracted  attention 
at  that  convention.  As  an  orator  and  thinker  he  was 
vastly  superior,  I  thought,  to  any  of  us,  and  being  per- 
fectly black  and  of  unmixed  African  descent,  the  splen- 
dors of  his  intellect  went  directly  to  the  glory  of  race.  In 
depth  of  thought,  fluency  of  speech,  readiness  of  wit,  log- 
ical exactness,  and  general  intelligence,  Samuel  R.  Ward 
has  left  no  successor  among  the  colored  men  amongst  us, 
and  it  was  a  sad  day  for  our  cause  when  he  was  laid  low 
in  the  soil  of  a  foreign  country. 

After  the  Free-Soil  party,  with  "  Free  Soil,"  "  Free 
Labor,"  "  Free  States,"  "  Free  Speech,"  and  "  Free  Men  " 
on  its  banner,  had  defeated  the  almost  permanently  victo- 
rious Democratic  party  under  the  leadership  of  so  able 
and  popular  a  standard-bearer  as  General  Lewis  Cass,  Mr. 
Calhoun  and  other  southern  statesmen  were  more  than 
ever  alarmed  at  the  rapid  increase  of  anti-slavery  feeling 
in  the  North,  and  devoted  their  energies  more  and  more 
to  the  work  of  devising  means  to  stay  the  torrents  and  tie 
up  the  storm.  They  were  not  ignorant  of  whereunto  this 
sentiment  would  grow  if  unsubjected  and  unextinguished. 
Hence  they  became  fierce  and  furious  in  debate,  and  more 
extravagant  than  ever  in  their  demands  for  additional 
safeguards   for  their   system   of    robbery   and    murder. 


Assuming  that  the  Constitution  guaranteed  their  rights 
of  property  in  their  fellow-men,  they  held  it  to  be  in  open 
violation  of  the  Constitution  for  any  American  citizen  in 
any  part  of  the  United  States  to  speak,  write,  or  act  against 
this  right.  But  this  shallow  logic  they  plainly  saw  could 
do  them  no  good  unless  they  could  obtain  further  safe- 
guards for  slavery.  In  order  to  effect  this  the  idea  of  so 
changing  the  Constitution  was  suggested  that  there 
should  be  two  instead  of  one  President  of  the  United 
States — one  from  the  North  and  the  other  from  the  South 
— and  that  no  measure  should  become  a  law  without  the 
assent  of  both.  But  this  device  was  so  utterly  impracti- 
cable that  it  soon  dropped  out  of  sight,  and  it  is  men- 
tioned here  only  to  show  the  desperation  of  slaveholders 
to  prop  up  their  system  of  barbarism  against  which  the 
sentiment  of  the  North  was  being  directed  with  destruct- 
ive skill  and  effect.  They  clamored  for  more  slave  States, 
more  power  in  the  Senate  and  House  of  Representatives, 
and  insisted  upon  the  suppression  of  free  speech.  At  the 
end  of  two  years,  in  1850,  when  Clay  and  Calhoun,  two 
of  the  ablest  leaders  the  South  ever  had,  were  still  in  the 
Senate,  we  had  an  attempt  at  a  settlement  of  differences 
between  the  North  and  South  which  our  legislators 
meant  to  be  final.  What  those  measures  were  I  need  not 
here  enumerate,  except  to  say  that  chief  among  them  was 
the  Fugitive  Slave  Bill,  framed  by  James  M.  Mason 
of  Virginia  and  supported  by  Daniel  Webster  of  Massa- 
chusetts— a  bill  undoubtedly  more  designed  to  involve  the 
North  in  complicity  with  slavery  and  deaden  its  moral 
sentiment  than  to  procure  the  return  of  fugitives  to  their 
so-called  owners.  For  a  time  this  design  did  not  alto- 
gether fail.  Letters,  speeches,  and  pamphlets  literally 
rained  down  upon  the  people  of  the  North,  reminding 
them  of  their  constitutional  duty  to  hunt  down  and  return 
to  bondage  runaway  slaves.      In  this  the  preachers  were 


not  much  behind  the  press  and  the  politicians,  especially 
that  class  of  preachers  known  as  Doctors  of  Divinity.  A 
lone:  list  of  these  came  forward  with  their  Bibles  to  show 
that  neither  Christ  nor  his  holy  apostles  objected  to 
returning  fugitives  to  slavery.  Now  that  that  evil  day  is 
past,  a  sight  of  those  sermons  would,  I  doubt  not,  bring 
the  red  blush  of  shame  to  the  cheeks  of  many. 

Living  as  I  then  did  in  Rochester,  on  the  border  of  Can- 
ada, I  was  compelled  to  see  the  terribly  distressing  effects 
of  this  cruel  enactment.  Fugitive  slaves  who  had  lived 
for  many  years  safely  and  securely  in  western  New  York 
and  elsewhere,  some  of  whom  had  by  industry  and  econo- 
my saved  money  and  bought  little  homes  for  themselves 
and  their  children,  were  suddenly  alarmed  and  compelled 
to  flee  to  Canada  for  safety  as  from  an  enemy's  land 
— a  doomed  city — and  take  up  a  dismal  march  to  a  new 
abode,  empty-handed,  among  strangers.  My  old  friend 
Ward,  of  whom  I  have  just  now  spoken,  found  it  necessa- 
ry to  give  up  the  contest  and  flee  to  Canada,  and 
thousands  followed  his  example.  Bishop  Daniel  A.  Payne 
of  the  African  Methodist  Episcopal  Church  came  to  me 
about  this  time  to  consult  me  as  to  whether  it  was  best  to 
stand  our  ground  or  flee  to  Canada.  When  I  told  him  I 
could  not  desert  my  post  until  I  saw  I  could  not  hold  it, 
adding  that  I  did  not  wish  to  leave  while  Garnet  and 
Ward  remained,  "Why,"  said  he,  "Ward?  Ward,  he 
is  already  gone.  I  saw  him  crossing  from  Detroit  to 
AVindsor."  I  asked  him  if  he  were  going  to  stay,  and  he 
answered :  "  Yes ;  we  are  whipped,  we  are  whipped, 
and  we  might  as  well  retreat  in  order."  This  was  indeed 
a  stunning  blow.  This  man  had  power  to  do  more  to  de- 
feat this  inhuman  enactment  than  any  other  colored  man 
in  the  land,  for  no  other  could  bring  such  brain  power  to 
bear  against  it.  I  felt  like  a  besieged  city  at  news  that  its 
defenders  had  fallen  at  its  gates.     The  hardships  imposed 


by  this  atrocious  and  shameless  law  were  cruel  and  shock- 
ing, and  yet  only  a  few  of  all  the  fugitives  of  the  North- 
ern States  were  returned  to  slavery  under  its  infamous- 
ly wicked  provisions.  As  a  means  of  recapturing 
their  runaway  property  in  human  flesh  the  law  was  an 
utter  failure.  Its  efficiency  was  destroyed  by  its  enor- 
mity. Its  chief  effect  was  to  produce  alarm  and  terror 
among  the  class  subject  to  its  operation,  and  this  it  did 
most  effectually  and  distressingly.  Even  colored  people 
who  had  been  free  all  their  lives  felt  themselves  very 
insecure  in  their  freedom,  for  under  this  law  the  oaths  of 
any  two  villains  were  sufficient  to  consign  a  free  man  to 
slavery  for  life.  While  the  law  was  a  terror  to  the  free, 
it  was  a  still  greater  terror  to  the  escaped  bondman.  To 
him  there  was  no  peace.  Asleep  or  awake,  at  work  or  at 
rest,  in  church  or  market,  he  was  liable  to  surprise  and 
capture.  By  the  law  the  judge  got  ten  dollars  a  head  for 
all  he  could  consign  to  slavery,  and  only  five  dollars 
apiece  for  any  which  he  might  adjudge  free.  Although  I 
was  now  myself  free,  I  was  not  without  apprehension. 
My  purchase  was  of  doubtful  validity,  having  been  bought 
when  out  of  the  possession  of  my  owner  and  when  he 
must  take  what  was  given  or  take  nothing.  It  was  a 
question  whether  my  claimant  could  be  estopped  by  such 
a  sale  from  asserting  certain  or  supposable  equitable 
rights  in  my  body  and  soul.  From  rumors  that  reached 
me  my  house  was  guarded  by  my  friends  several  nights, 
when  kidnappers,  had  they  come,  would  have  got  any- 
thing but  a  cool  reception,  for  there  would  have  been 
"  blows  to  take  as  well  as  blows  to  give."  Happily  this 
reign  of  terror  did  not  continue  long.  Despite  the  efforts 
of  Daniel  Webster  and  Millard  Fillmore  and  our  Doctors 
of  Divinity,  the  law  fell  rapidly  into  disrepute.  The 
rescue  of  Shadrack  resulting  in  the  death  of  one  of  the 
kidnappers,  in  Boston,  the  cases  of  Simms  and  Anthony 


Burns,  in  the  same  place,  created  the  deepest  feehng 
against  the  law  and  its  upholders.  But  the  thing 
which  more  than  all  else  destroyed  the  fugitive  slave  law 
was  the  resistance  made  to  it  by  the  fugitives  themselves. 
A  decided  check  was  given  to  the  execution  of  the  law  at 
Christiana,  Penn.,  where  three  colored  men,  being  pur- 
sued by  Mr.  Gorsuch  and  his  son,  slew  the  father, 
wounded  the  son,  and  drove  away  the  officers,  and  made 
their  escape  to  my  house  in  Rochester.  The  work  of 
getting  these  men  safely  into  Canada  was  a  delicate  one. 
They  were  not  only  fugitives  from  slavery  but  charged 
with  murder,  and  officers  were  in  pursuit  of  them.  There 
was  no  time  for  delay.  I  could  not  look  upon  them  as 
murderers.  To  me,  they  were  heroic  defenders  of  the 
just  rights  of  man  against  manstealers  and  murderers. 
So  I  fed  them,  and  sheltered  them  in  my  house.  Had 
they  been  pursued  then  and  there,  my  home  would  have 
been  stained  with  blood,  for  tliese  men  who  had  already 
tasted  blood  were  well  armed  and  prepared  to  sell  their 
lives  at  any  expense  to  the  lives  and  limbs  of  their  prob- 
ble  assailants.  What  they  had  already  done  at  Christiana 
and  the  cool  determination  which  showed  very  plainly 
especially  in  Parker,  (for  that  was  the  name  of  the 
leader,)  left  no  doubt  on  my  mind  that  their  courage  was 
genuine  and  that  their  deeds  would  equal  their  words. 
The  situation  was  critical  and  dangerous.  The  telegraph 
had  that  day  announced  their  deeds  at  Christiana,  their 
escape,  and  that  the  mountains  of  Pennsylvania  were 
being  searched  for  the  murderers.  These  men  had 
reached  me  simultaneously  with  this  news  in  the  New 
York  papers.  Immediately  after  the  occurrence  at 
Christiana,  they,  instead  of  going  into  the  mountains, 
were  placed  on  a  train  which  brought  them  to  Rochester. 
They  were  thus  almost  in  advance  of  the  lightning,  and 
much  in  advance  of  probable  pursuit,  unless  the  telegraph 


had  raised  agents  already  here.  The  hours  the}^  spent  at  my 
house  were  therefore  hours  of  anxiety  as  well  as  activity. 
I  dispatched  my  friend  Miss  Julia  Griffiths  to  the  land- 
ing three  miles  away  on  the  Genesee  Eiver  to  ascertain 
if  a  steamer  would  leave  that  night  for  any  port  in  Can- 
ada, and  remained  at  home  myself  to  guard  my  tired, 
diist-covered,  and  sleeping  guests,  for  they  had  been  har- 
assed and  traveling  for  two  days  and  nights,  and  needed 
rest.  Happily  for  us  the  suspense  was  not  long,  for  it 
turned  out  that  that  very  night  a  steamer  was  to  leave 
for  Toronto,  Canada. 

This  fact,  however,  did  not  end  my  anxiety.  There 
was  danger  that  between  my  house  and  the  landing  or  at 
the  landing  itself  we  might  meet  with  trouble.  Indeed 
the  landing  was  the  place  where  trouble  was  likely  to 
occur  if  at  all.  As  patiently  as  I  could,  I  waited  for  the 
shades  of  night  to  come  on,  and  then  put  the  men  in  my 
"  Democrat  carriage,"  and  started  for  the  landing  on  the 
Genesee.  It  was  an  exciting  ride,  and  somewhat  speedy 
withal.  We  reached  the  boat  at  least  fifteen  minutes 
before  the  time  of  its  departure,  and  that  without  remark 
or  molestation.  But  those  fifteen  minutes  seemed  much 
longer  than  usual.  I  remained  on  board  till  the  order  to 
haul  in  the  gang-plank  was  given  ;  I  shook  hands  with 
my  friends,  received  from  Parker  the  revolver  that  fell 
from  the  hand  of  Gorsuch  when  he  died,  presented  now 
as  a  token  of  gratitude  and  a  memento  of  the  battle  for 
Liberty  at  Christiana,  and  I  returned  to  my  home  with 
a  sense  of  relief  which  I  cannot  stop  here  to  describe. 
This  affair,  at  Christiana,  and  the  Jerry  rescue  at  Syra- 
cuse, inflicted  fatal  wounds  on  the  fugitive  slave  bill.  It 
became  thereafter  almost  a  dead  letter,  for  slaveholders 
found  that  not  only  did  it  fail  to  put  them  in  possession 
of  their  slaves,  but  that  the  attempt  to  enforce  it  brouglit 
odium  upon  themselves  and  weakened  the  slave  system. 

UNCLE  tom's  cabin.  351 

III  the  midst  of  tliese  fugitive  slave  troubles  came  the 
book  known  as  Uncle  Tom's  Cabin,  a  work  of  marvelous 
depth  and  power.  Nothing  could  have  better  suited  the 
moral  and  humane  requirements  of  the  hour.  Its  effect 
was  amazing,  instantaneous,  and  universal.  No  book  on 
the  subject  of  slavery  had  so  generally  and  favorably 
touched  the  American  heart.  It  combined  all  the  power 
and  pathos  of  preceding  publications  of  the  kind,  and  was 
hailed  by  many  as  an  inspired  production.  Mrs.  Stowe 
at  once  became  an  object  of  interest  and  admiration. 
She  had  made  fortune  and  fame  at  home,  and  had 
awakened  a  deep  interest  abroad.  Eminent  persons  in 
England,  roused  to  anti-slavery  enthusiasm  by  her  "  Uncle 
Tom's  Cabin,"  invited  her  to  visit  that  country,  and  prom- 
ised to  give  her  a  testimonial.  Mrs.  Stowe  accepted  the 
invitation  and  the  proffered  testimonial.  Before  sailing 
for  England,  however,  she  invited  me  from  Rocliester,  N. 
Y.,  to  spend  a  day  at  her  house  in  Andover,  Mass. 
Delighted  with  an  opportunity  to  become  personally 
acquainted  with  the  gifted  authoress,  I  lost  no  time  in 
making  my  way  to  Andover.  I  was  received  at  her  home 
with  genuine  cordiality.  There  was  no  contradiction 
between  the  author  and  her  book.  Mrs.  Stowe  appeared 
in  conversation  equally  as  well  as  she  appeared  in  her 
writing.  She  made  to  me  a  nice  little  speech  in  announc- 
ing her  object  in  sending  for  me.  "  I  have  invited  you 
here,"  she  said,  ''because  I  wish  to  confer  with  you  as  to 
what  can  be  done  for  the  free  colored  people  of  the  coun- 
try. I  am  going  to  England  and  expect  to  have  a  con- 
siderable sum  of  money  placed  in  my  hands,  and  I  intend 
to  use  it  in  some  way  for  the  permanent  improvement  of 
the  free  colored  people,  and  especially  for  that  class  which 
has  become  free  by  their  own  exertions.  In  what  way  I 
can  do  this  most  successfully  is  the  subject  I  wish  to 
talk  with  you  about.     In  any  event  I  desire  to  have  some 


monument  rise  after  Uncle  Tom's  Cabin,  which  shall 
show  that  it  produced  more  than  a  transient  influence." 
She  said  several  plans  had  been  suggested,  among  others 
an  educational  institution  pure  and  simple,  but  that  she 
thought  favorably  of  the  establishment  of  an  industrial 
school ;  and  she  desired  me  to  express  my  views  as  to 
what  I  thought  would  be  the  best  plan  to  help  the  free 
colored  people.  I  was  not  slow  to  tell  Mrs.  Stowe  all  I 
knew  and  had  thought  on  the  subject.  As  to  a  purely 
educational  institution,  I  agreed  with  her  that  it  did  not 
meet  our  necessities.  I  argued  against  expending  money 
in  that  way.  I  was  also  opposed  to  an  ordinary  indus- 
trial school  where  pupils  should  merely  earn  the  means 
of  obtaining  an  education  in  books.  There  were 
such  schools,  already.  What  I  thought  of  as  best 
was  rather  a  series  of  workshops,  where  colored 
people  could  learn  some  of  the  handicrafts,  learn 
to  work  in  iron,  wood,  and  leather,  and  where  a 
plain  English  education  could  also  be  taught.  I  argued 
that  the  want  of  money  was  the  root  of  all  evil  to  the 
colored  people.  They  were  shut  out  from  all  lucrative 
employments  and  compelled  to  be  merely  barbers,  waiters, 
coachmen,  and  the  like,  at  wages  so  low  that  they  could 
lay  up  little  or  nothing.  Their  poverty  kept  them  igno- 
rant and  their  ignorance  kept  them  degraded.  We 
needed  more  to  learn  how  to  make  a  good  living  than  to 
learn  Latin  and  Greek.  After  listening  to  me  at  con- 
siderable length,  she  was  good  enough  to  tell  me  that 
she  favored  my  views,  and  would  devote  the  money  she 
expected  to  receive  abroad  to  meeting  the  want  I  had 
described  as  the  most  important;  by  establishing  an 
institution  in  which  colored  youth  should  learn  trades  as 
well  as  to  read,  write,  and  count.  When  about  to  leave 
Andover,  Mrs.  Stowe  asked  me  to  put  my  views  on  the 
subject  in  the  form  of  a  letter,  so  that  she  could  take  it 

LIFE,   LIBERTY,   ETC.  353 

to  England  with  her  and  show  it  to  her  friends  there, 
that  they  might  see  to  what  their  contributions  were  to 
be  devoted.  I  acceded  to  her  request  and  wrote  her  the 
following  letter  for  the  purpose  named : 

KocHESTER,  March  8,  1853. 
My  Dear  Mrs.  Stowe  : 

You  kindly  informed  me,  when  at  your  house  a  fortnight  ago,  that 
you  designed  to  do  something  which  should  permanently  contribute 
to  the  improvement  and  elevation  of  the  free  colored  people  in  the 
United  States.  You  especially  expressed  an  interest  in  such  of  this 
class  as  had  become  free  by  their  own  exertions,  and  desired  most  of 
all  to  be  of  service  to  them.  In  what  manner  and  by  what  means 
you  can  assist  this  class  most  successfully,  is  the  subject  upon  which 
you  have  done  me  the  honor  to  ask  my  opinion,  ...  I  assert,  then, 
that  poverty,  ignorance,  and  degradation  are  the  combined  evils ;  or  in 
other  words,  these  constitute  the  social  disease  of  the  free  colored 
people  of  the  United  States. 

To  deliver  them  from  this  triple  malady  is  to  improve  and  elevate 
them,  by  which  I  mean  simply  to  put  them  on  an  equal  footing  with 
their  white  fellow-countrymen  in  the  sacred  right  to  "Life,  Liberty, 
and  the  pursuit  of  happiness."  I  am  for  no  fancied  or  artificial 
elevation,  but  only  ask  fair  play.  How  shall  this  be  obtained?  I 
answer,  first,  not  by  establishing  for  our  use  high  schools  and  col- 
leges. Such  institutions  are,  in  my  judgment,  beyond  our  immediate 
occasions  and  are  not  adapted  to  our  present  most  pressing  wants. 
High  schools  and  colleges  are  excellent  institutions,  and  will  in  due 
season  be  greatly  subservient  to  our  progress ;  but  they  are  the  result, 
as  well  as  they  are  the  demand,  of  a  point  of  progress  which  we  as  a 
people  have  not  yet  attained.  Accustomed  as  we  have  been  to  the 
rougher  and  harder  modes  of  living,  and  of  gaining  a  livelihood,  we 
cannot  and  we  ought  not  to  hope  that  in  a  single  leap  from  our  low 
condition,  we  can  reach  that  of  Ministers,  Lawyers,  Doctors,  Editors, 
Merchants,  etc.  These  will  doubtless  be  attained  by  us ;  but  this  will 
only  be  when  we  have  patiently  and  laboriously,  and  I  may  add  suc- 
cessfully, mastered  and  passed  through  the  intermediate  gradations 
of  agriculture  and  the  mechanic  arts.  Besides,  there  are  (and  perhaps 
this  is  a  better  reason  for  my  view  of  the  case)  numerous  institutions 
of  learning  in  this  country,  already  thrown  open  to  colored  youth. 
To  my  thinking,  there  are  quite  as  many  facilities  now  afforded  to 
the  colored  people  as  they  can  spare  the  time,  from  the  sterner  duties 
of  life,  to  avail  themselves  of.  In  their  present  condition  of  poverty, 
they  cannot  spare  their  sons  and  daughters  two  or  three  years  at 


boarding-schools  or  colleges,  to  say  nothing  of  finding  the  means  to 
sustain  them  while  at  such  institutions.  I  take  it,  therefore,  that  we 
are  well  provided  for  in  this  respect;  and  that  it  may  be  fairly 
inferred  from  the  fact,  that  the  facilities  for  our  education,  so  far  as 
schools  and  colleges  in  the  Free  States  are  concerned,  will  increase 
quite  in  proportion  with  our  future  wants.  Colleges  have  been  open 
to  colored  youth  in  this  country  during  the  last  dozen  years.  Yet 
few,  comparatively,  have  acquired  a  classical  education;  and  even 
this  few  have  found  themselves  educated  far  above  a  living  condition, 
there  being  no  methods  by  which  they  could  turn  their  learning  to 
account.  Several  of  this  latter  class  have  entered  the  ministry ;  but 
you  need  not  be  told  that  an  educated  people  is  needed  to  sustain  an 
educated  ministry.  There  must  be  a  certain  amount  of  cultivation 
among  the  people,  to  sustain  such  a  ministry.  At  present  we  have 
not  that  cultivation  amongst  us;  and,  therefore,  we  value  in  the 
preacher  strong  lungs  rather  than  high  learning.  I  do  not  say  that 
educated  ministers  are  not  needed  amongst  us,  far  from  it!  I  wish 
there  were  more  of  them!  but  to  increase  their  number  is  not  the 
largest  benefit  you  can  bestow  upon  us. 

We  have  two  or  three  colored  lawyers  in  this  country ;  and  I  rejoice 
in  the  fact;  for  it  affords  very  gratifjdng  evidence  of  our  progress. 
Yet  it  must  be  confessed  that,  in  point  of  success,  our  lawyers  are  as 
great  failures  as  our  ministers.  White  people  will  not  employ  them 
to  the  obvious  embarrassment  of  their  causes,  and  the  blacks,  taking 
their  cue  from  the  whites,  have  not  sufficient  confidence  in  their 
abilities  to  employ  them.  Hence  educated  colored  men,  among  the 
colored  people,  are  at  a  very  great  discount.  It  would  seem  that 
education  and  emigration  go  together  with  us,  for  as  soon  as  a  man 
rises  amongst  us,  capable,  by  his  genius  and  learning,  to  do  us  great 
service,  just  so  soon  he  finds  that  he  can  serve  himself  better  by  going 
elsewhere.  In  proof  of  this,  I  might  instance  the  Russwurms,  the 
Garnetts,  the  Wards,  the  Crummells,  and  others,  all  men  of  superior 
ability  and  attainments,  and  capable  of  removing  mountains  of  preju- 
dice against  their  race,  by  their  simple  presence  in  the  country;  but 
these  gentlemen,  finding  themselves  embarrassed  here  by  the  peculiar 
disadvantages  to  which  I  have  referred,  disadvantages  in  part  grow- 
ing out  of  their  education,  being  repelled  by  ignorance  on  the  one 
hand,  and  prejudice  on  the  other,  and  having  no  taste  to  continue  a 
contest  against  such  odds,  they  have  sought  more  congenial  climes, 
where  they  can  live  more  peaceable  and  quiet  lives.  I  regret  their 
election,  but  I  cannot  blame  them;  for  with  an  equal  amount  of 
education,  and  the  hard  lot  which  was  theirs,  I  might  follow  their 
example.  .  .  . 

There  is  little  reason  to  hope  that  any  considerable  number  of  the 


free  colored  people  will  ever  be  induced  to  leave  this  country,  even  if 
such  a  thing  were  desirable.  The  black  man  {unlike  the  Indian)  loves 
civilization.  He  does  not  make  very  great  progress  in  civilization 
himself,  but  he  likes  to  be  in  the  midst  of  it,  and  prefers  to  share  its 
most  galling  evils,  to  encountering  barbarism.  Then  the  love  of 
country,  the  dread  of  isolation,  the  lack  of  adventurous  spirit,  and 
the  thought  of  seeming  to  desert  their  "brethren  in  bonds,"  are  a 
powerful  check  upon  all  schemes  of  colonization,  which  look  to  the 
removal  of  the  colored  people,  without  the  slaves.  The  truth  is,  dear 
madam,  we  are  Tiere,  and  here  we  are  likely  to  remain.  Individuals 
emigrate — nations  never.  We  have  grown  up  with  this  republic,  and 
I  see  nothing  in  her  character,  or  even  in  the  character  of  the  Ameri- 
can people,  as  yet,  which  compels  the  belief  that  we  must  leave  the 
United  States.  If,  then,  we  are  to  remain  here,  the  question  for  the 
wise  and  good  is  precisely  t^at  you  have  submitted  to  me — namely : 
What  can  be  done  to  improve  the  condition  of  the  free  people  of  color 
in  the  United  States?  The  plan  which  I  humbly  submit  in  answer  to 
this  inquiry  (and  in  the  hope  that  it  may  find  favor  with  you,  and 
with  the  many  friends  of  humanity  who  honor,  love,  and  cooperate 
with  you)  is  the  establishment  in  Rochester,  N.  Y. ,  or  in  some  other 
part  of  the  United  States  equally  favorable  to  such  an  enterprise,  of 
an  Industrial  College  in  which  shall  be  taught  several  important 
branches  of  the  mechanic  arts.  This  college  to  be  open  to  colored 
youth.  I  will  pass  over  the  details  of  such  an  institution  as  I  pro- 
pose. .  .  .  Never  having  had  a  day's  schooling  in  all  my  life,  I  may 
not  be  expected  to  map  out  the  details  of  a  plan  so  comprehensive  as 
that  involved  in  the  idea  of  a  college.  I  repeat,  then,  I  leave  the 
organization  and  administration  to  the  superior  wisdom  of  yourself 
and  the  friends  who  second  your  noble  efforts.  The  argument  in 
favor  of  an  Industrial  College  (a  college  to  be  conducted  by  the  best 
men,  and  the  best  workmen  which  the  mechanic  arts  can  afford ;  a 
college  where  colored  youth  can  be  instructed  to  use  their  hands,  as 
well  as  their  heads ;  where  they  can  be  put  in  possession  of  the  means 
of  getting  a  living  whether  their  lot  in  after  life  may  be  cast  among 
civilized  or  uncivilized  men;  whether  they  choose  to  stay  here,  or 
prefer  to  return  to  the  land  of  their  fathers)  is  briefly  this:  Prejudice 
against  the  free  colored  people  in  the  United  States  has  shown  itself 
nowhere  so  invincible  as  among  mechanics.  The  farmer  and  the 
professional  man  cherish  no  feeling  so  bitter  as  that  cherished  by 
these.  The  latter  would  starve  us  out  of  the  country  entirely.  At 
this  moment  I  can  more  easily  get  my  son  into  a  lawyer's  ofiice  to 
study  law  than  I  can  into  a  blacksmith's  shop  to  blow  the  bellows  and 
to  wield  the  sledge-hammer.  Denied  the  means  of  learning  useful 
trades,  we  are  pressed  into  the  narrowest  limits  to  obtain  a  livelihood. 


In  times  past  we  have  been  the  hewers  of  wood  and  drawers  of  water 
for  American  society,  and  we  once  enjoyed  a  monopoly  in  menial 
employments,  but  this  is  so  no  longer.  Even  these  employments  are 
rapidly  passing  away  out  of  our  hands.  The  fact  is  (every  day  begins 
with  the  lesson,  and  ends  with  the  lesson)  that  colored  men  must 
learn  trades ;  must  find  new  employments ;  new  modes  of  usefulness 
to  society,  or  that  they  must  decay  under  the  pressing  wants  to  which 
their  condition  is  rapidly  bringing  them. 

We  must  become  mechanics;  we  must  build  as  well  as  live  in 
houses ;  we  must  make  as  well  as  use  furniture ;  we  must  construct 
bridges  as  well  as  pass  over  them,  before  we  can  properly  live  or  be 
respected  by  our  fellow  men.  We  need  mechanics  as  well  as  minis- 
ters. We  need  workers  in  iron,  clay,  and  leather.  We  have  orators, 
authors,  and  other  professional  men,  but  these  reach  only  a  certain 
class,  and  get  respect  for  our  race  in  certain  select  circles.  To  live 
here  as  we  ought  we  must  fasten  ourselves  to  our  countrymen  through 
their  evcry-day,  cardinal  wants.  We  must  not  only  be  able  to  Mack 
boots,  but  to  make  them.  At  present  we  are  unknown  in  the  northern 
States  as  mechanics.  We  give  no  proof  of  genius  or  skill  at  the 
county,  State,  or  national  fairs.  We  are  unknown  at  any  of  the 
great  exhibitions  of  the  industry  of  our  fellow-citizens,  and  being 
unknown,  we  are  unconsidered. 

The  fact  that  we  make  no  show  of  our  ability  is  held  conclusive  of 
our  inability  to  make  any,  hence  all  the  indifference  and  contempt 
with  which  incapacity  is  regarded  fall  upon  us,  and  that  too  when 
we  have  had  no  means  of  disproving  the  infamous  opinion  of  our 
natural  inferiority.  I  have,  during  the  last  dozen  years,  denied 
before  the  Americans  that  we  are  an  inferior  race;  but  this  has  been 
done  by  arguments  based  upon  admitted  principles  rather  than  by  the 
presentation  of  facts.  Now,  firmly  believing,  as  I  do,  that  there  are 
skill,  invention,  power,  industry,  and  real  mechanical  genius  among 
the  colored  people,  which  will  bear  favorable  testimony  for  them, 
and  which  only  need  the  means  to  develop  them,  I  am  decidedly  in 
favor  of  the  establishment  of  such  a  college  as  I  have  mentioned. 
The  benefits  of  such  an  institution  would  not  be  confined  to  the 
Northern  States,  nor  to  the  free  colored  people.  They  would  extend 
over  the  whole  Union.  The  slave  not  less  than  the  freeman  would  be 
benefited  by  such  an  institution.  It  must  be  confessed  that  the  most 
powerful  argument  now  used  by  the  southern  slaveholder,  and  the 
one  most  soothing  to  his  conscience,  is  that  derived  from  the  low 
condition  of  the  free  colored  people  of  the  North.  I  have  long  felt 
that  too  little  attention  has  been  given  by  our  truest  friends  in  this 
country  to  removing  this  stumbling-block  out  of  the  way  of  the 
slave's  liberation. 


The  most  telling,  the  most  killing  refutation  of  slavery  is  the  pre- 
sentation of  an  industrious,  enterprising,  thrifty,  and  intelligent  free 
black  population.  Such  a  population  I  believe  would  rise  in  the 
Northern  States  under  the  fostering  care  of  such  a  college  as  that 

To  show  that  we  are  capable  of  becoming  mechanics  I  might  ad- 
duce any  amount  of  testimony;  but,  dear  madam,  I  need  not  ring  the 
changes  on  such  a  proposition.  There  is  no  question  in  the  mind  of 
any  unprejudiced  person  that  the  Negro  is  capable  of  making  a  good 
mechanic.  Indeed,  even  those  who  cherish  the  bitterest  feelings 
toward  us  have  admitted  that  the  apprehension  that  negroes  might  be 
employed  in  their  stead  dictated  the  policy  of  excluding  them  from 
trades  altogether.  But  I  will  not  dwell  upon  this  point,  as  I  fear  I 
have  already  trespassed  too  long  upon  your  precious  time,  and  written 
more  than  I  ought  to  expect  you  to  read.  Allow  me  to  say  in  conclu- 
sion that  I  believe  every  intelligent  colored  man  in  America  will 
approve  and  rejoice  at  the  establishment  of  some  such  institution  as 
that  now  suggested.  There  are  many  respectable  colored  men,  fathers 
of  large  families,  having  boys  nearly  grown  up,  whose  minds  are 
tossed  by  day  and  by  night  with  the  anxious  inquiry.  What  shall  I  do 
with  my  boys?  Such  an  institution  would  meet  the  wants  of  such 
persons.  Then,  too,  the  establishment  of  such  an  institution  would 
be  in  character  with  the  eminently  practical  philanthropy  of  your 
transatlantic  friends.  America  could  scarcely  object  to  it  as  an  at- 
tempt to  agitate  the  public  mind  on  the  subject  of  slavery,  or  to 
dissolve  the  Union.  It  could  not  be  tortured  into  a  cause  for  hard 
words  by  the  American  people,  but  the  noble  and  good  of  all  classes 
would  see  in  the  effort  an  excellent  motive,  a  benevolent  object,  tem- 
perately, wisely,  and  practically  manifested. 

Wishing  you,  dear  madam,  renewed  health,  a  pleasant  passage,  and 

safe  return  to  your  native  land, 

I  am,  most  truly,  your  grateful  friend, 

Fkederick  Douglass. 
Mrs.  H.  B.  Stowe. 

I  was  not  only  requested  to  write  the  foregoing  letter 
for  the  purpose  indicated,  but  I  was  also  asked,  with  ad- 
mirable foresight,  to  see  and  ascertain,  as  far  as  possible, 
the  views  of  the  free  colored  people  themselves  in  respect 
to  the  proposed  measure  for  their  benefit.  This  I  was 
enabled  to  do  in  July,  1853,  at  the  largest  and  most 
enlightened  colored  couA^ention  that,  up  to  that  time,  had 
ever  assembled  in  this  country.     This  convention  warmly 


approved  the  plan  of  a  manual  labor  school,  as  already 
described,  and  expressed  high  appreciation  of  the  wisdom 
and  benevolence  of  Mrs.  Stowe.  This  convention  was 
held  in  Rochester,  N.  Y.,  and  will  long  be  remembered 
there  for  the  surprise  and  gratification  it  caused  our 
friends  in  that  city.  They  were  not  looking  for  such  ex- 
hibitions of  enlightened  zeal  and  ability  as  were  there  dis- 
played in  speeches,  addresses,  and  resolutions,  and  in  the 
conduct  of  the  business  for  which  it  had  assembled.  Its 
proceedings  attracted  widespread  attention  at  home  and 

While  Mrs.  Stowe  was  abroad  she  was  attacked  by  the 
pro-slavery  press  of  our  country  so  persistently  and  vigor- 
ously for  receiving  money  for  her  own  private  use  that  the 
Eev.  Henry  Ward  Beecher  felt  called  upon  to  notice  and 
reply  to  them  in  the  columns  of  the  New  York  Indepeiid- 
ent,  of  which  he  was  then  the  editor.  He  denied  that 
Mrs.  Stowe  was  gathering  British  gold  for  herself,  and  re- 
ferred her  assailants  to  me  if  they  would  learn  what  she 
intended  to  do  with  the  money.  In  answer  to  her 
maligners,  I  denounced  their  accusations  as  groundless, 
and  assured  the  public  through  the  columns  of  my  paper 
that  the  testimonial  then  being  raised  in  England  by  Mrs. 
Stowe  would  be  sacredly  devoted  to  the  establishment  of 
an  industrial  school  for  colored  youth.  This  announce- 
ment was  circulated  by  other  journals,  and  the  attacks 
ceased.  Nobody  could  well  object  to  such  application 
of  money  received  from  any  source,  at  home  or  abroad. 
After  her  return  to  this  country  I  called  again  on  Mrs. 
Stowe,  and  was  much  disappointed  to  learn  from  her  that 
she  had  reconsidered  her  plan  for  the  industrial  school.  I 
have  never  been  able  to  see  any  force  in  the  reasons  for 
this  change.  It  is  enough,  however,  to  say  that  they  were 
sufficient  for  her,  and  that  she  no  doubt  acted  conscien- 
tiously, though  her  change  of  purpose  was  a  great  disap- 


pointment,  and  placed  me  in  an  awkward  position  before 
the  colored  people  of  this  country,  as  well  as  to  friends 
abroad,  to  whom  I  had  given  assurances  that  the  money 
would  be  appropriated  in  the  manner  I  have  described. 



Increased  demands  of  slavery — War  in  Kansas — John  Brown's  raid — 
His  capture  and  execution — My  escape  to  England  from  United 
States  marshals. 

NOTWITHSTANDING  the  natural  tendency  of  the 
human  mind  to  weary  of  an  old  story,  and  to  turn 
away  from  chronic  abuses  for  which  it  sees  no  remedy,  the 
anti-slavery  agitation  for  thirty  long  years  (from  1830  to 
1860)  was  sustained  with  ever-increasing  intensity  and 
power.  This  was  not  entirely  due  to  the  extraordinary 
zeal  and  ability  of  the  anti-slavery  agitators  themselves, 
for,  with  all  their  admitted  ardor  and  eloquence,  they 
could  have  done  very  little  without  the  aid  rendered  them 
unwittingly  by  the  aggressive  character  of  slavery  itself. 
It  was  in  the  nature  of  the  system  never  to  rest  in 
obscurity,  although  that  condition  was  in  a  high  degree 
essential  to  its  security.  It  was  forever  forcing  itself 
into  prominence.  Unconscious,  apparently,  of  its  own 
deformity,  it  omitted  no  occasion  for  inviting  disgust 
by  seeking  approval  and  admiration.  It  was  noisiest  when 
it  should  have  been  most  silent  and  u^^obtrusive.  One  of 
its  defenders,  when  asked  what  would  satisfy  him  as 
a  slaveholder,  said  he  "  never  would  be  satisfied  until  he 
could  call  the  roll  of  his  slaves  in  the  shadow  of  Bunker 
Hill  monument."  Every  effort  made  to  put  down  agita- 
tion only  served  to  imjDart  to  it  new  strength  and  vigor. 
Of  this  class  was  the  "  gag  rule  "  attempted  and  partially 
enforced  in  Congress ;  the  attempted  suppression  of  the 
right  of  petition;    the  mobocratic  demonstrations  against 



the  exercise  of  free  speech ;  the  display  of  pistols,  bludg- 
eons, and  plantation  manners  in  the  Congress  of  the 
nation ;  the  demand  shamelessly  made  by  our  government 
upon  England  for  the  return  of  slaves  who  had  won  their 
liberty  by  their  valor  on  the  high  seas ;  the  bill  for  the 
recapture  of  runaway  slaves  ;  the  annexation  of  Texas  for 
the  avowed  purpose  of  increasing  the  number  of  slave 
States,  and  thus  increasing  the  power  of  slavery  in 
the  Union ;  the  war  with  Mexico  ;  the  filibustering  expe- 
ditions against  Cuba  and  Central  America ;  the  cold- 
blooded decision  of  Chief  Justice  Taney  in  the  Dred  Scott 
case,  wherein  he  states,  as  it  were,  a  historical  fact  that 
"  negroes  are  deemed  to  have  no  rights  which  white  men 
are  bound  to  respect "  ;  the  perfidious  repeal  of  the  Mis-" 
souri  compromise  when  all  its  advantages  to  the  South 
had  been  gained  and  appropriated,  and  when  nothing  had 
been  gained  by  the  North  ;  the  armed  and  bloody  attempt 
to  force  slavery  upon  the  virgin  soil  of  Kansas  ;  the  efforts 
of  both  of  the  great  political  parties  to  drive  from  place 
and  power  every  man  suspected  of  ideas  and  principles 
hostile  to  slavery  ;  the  rude  attacks  made  upon  Giddings, 
Hale,  Chase,  Wilson,  Wm.  H.  Seward,  and  Charles  Sum- 
ner ;  the  effort  to  degrade  these  brave  men  and  drive 
them  from  positions  of  prominence  ;  the  summary  manner 
in  which  Virginia  hanged  John  Brown ;  in  a  word,  what- 
ever was  done  or  attempted  with  a  view  to  the  support 
and  security  of  slavery,  only  served  as  fuel  to  the  fire,  and 
heated  the  furnace  of  agitation  to  a  higher  degree 
tlian  any  before  attained.  This  was  true  up  to  the  mo- 
ment when  the  nation  found  it  necessary  to  gird  on  the 
sword  for  the  salvation  of  the  country  and  the  destruction 
of  slavery. 

At  no  time  during  all  the  ten  years  preceding  the  war 
was  the  public  mind  at  rest.  Mr.  Clay's  compromise 
measures  in  1850,  whereby  all  the  troubles  of  the  country 

362  ELECTION   OF   1856. 

about  slavery  were  to  be  "  in  the  deep  bosom  of  the  ocean 
buried,"  were  hardly  dry  on  the  pages  of  the  statute  book 
before  the  whole  land  was  rocked  with  rumored  agitation, 
and  for  one  I  did  my  best  by  pen  and  voice  and  by  cease- 
less activity  to  keep  it  alive  and  vigorous.  Later  on,  in 
1854,  we  had  the  Missouri  compromise,  which  removed 
the  only  grand  legal  barrier  against  the  spread  of 
slavery  over  all  tlie  territory  of  the  United  States. 
From  this  time  there  was  no  pause,  no  repose.  Every- 
body, however  dull,  .could  see  that  this  was  a  phase  of  the 
slavery  question  whicli  was  not  to  be  slighted  or  ignored. 
The  people  of  the  North  had  been  accustomed  to  ask,  in 
a  tone  of  cruel  indifference,  "  What  have  we  to  do  with 
slavery  ?  "  and  now  no  labored  speech  was  required  in 
answer.  Slaveholding  aggression  settled  this  question 
for  us.  The  presence  of  slavery  in  a  territory  would  cer- 
tainly exclude  the  sons  and  daughters  of  the  free  States 
more  effectually  than  statutes  or  yellow  fever.  Those 
who  cared  nothing  for  the  slave,  and  were  willing  to 
tolerate  slavery  inside  the  slave  States,  were  neverthe- 
less not  quite  prepared  to  find  themselves  and  their  chil- 
dren excluded  from  the  common  inheritance  of  the  nation. 
It  is  not  surprising,  therefore,  that  the  public  mind  of  the 
North  was  easily  kept  intensely  alive  on  this  subject,  nor 
that  in  1856  an  alarming  expression  of  feeling  on  this 
point  was  seen  in  the  large  vote  given  for  John  C.  Fre- 
mont and  William  L.  Dayton  for  President  and  Vice- 
President  of  the  United  States.  Until  this  last  uprising 
of  the  North  against  the  slave  power  the  anti-slavery 
movement  was  largely  retained  in  the  hands  of  the 
original  abolitionists,  whose  most  prominent  leaders  have 
already  been  mentioned  elsewhere  in  this  volume.  After 
1856  a  mightier  arm  and  a  more  numerous  host  was 
raised  against  it,  the  agitation  becoming  broader  and 
deeper.     The  times  at  this  point  illustrated  the  principle 


of  tension  and  compression,  action  and  reaction.  The 
more  open,  flagrant,  and  impudent  the  slave  power,  the 
more  firmly  it  was  confronted  by  the  rising  anti-slavery 
spirit  of  the  North.  No  one  act  did  more  to  rouse  the  North 
to  a  comprehension  of  the  infernal  and  barbarous  spirit 
of  slavery  and  its  determination  to  "  rule  or  ruin,"  than 
the  cowardly  and  brutal  assault  made  in  the  American 
Senate  upon  Charles  Sumner,  by  Preston  S.  Brooks,  a 
member  of  Congress  from  South  Carolina.  Shocking 
and  scandalous  as  was  this  attack,  the  spirit  in  which  the 
deed  was  received  and  commended  by  the  community 
was  still  more  disgraceful.  Southern  ladies  even  ap- 
plauded the  armed  bully  for  his  murderous  assault  upon 
an  unarmed  northern  Senator,  because  of  words  spoken 
in  debate !  This  more  than  all  else  told  the  thoughtful 
people  of  the  North  the  kind  of  civilization  to  which  they 
were  linked,  and  how  plainly  it  foreshadowed  a  conflict 
on  a  larger  scale. 

As  a  measure  of  agitation,  the  repeal  of  the  Missouri 
Compromise  alluded  to  was  perhaps  the  most  effective. 
It  was  that  which  brought  Abraham  Lincoln  into  promi- 
nence, and  into  conflict  with  Stephen  A.  Douglas  (who 
was  the  author  of  that  measure)  and  compelled  the 
Western  States  to  take  a  deeper  interest  than  they  ever 
had  done  before  in  the  whole  question.  Pregnant  words 
were  now  spoken  on  the  side  of  freedom,  words  which 
went  straight  to  the  heart  of  the  nation.  It  was  Mr. 
Lincoln  who  told  the  American  people  at  this  crisis  that 
the  "  Union  could  not  long  endure  half  slave  and  half 
free ;  that  they  must  be  all  one  or  the  other,  and  that 
the  public  mind  could  find  no  resting  place  but  in  the 
belief  in  the  ultimate  extinction  of  slavery."  These  were 
not  the  words  of  an  abolitionist — branded  a  fanatic,  and 
carried  away  by  an  enthusiastic  devotion  to  the  Negro — 
but  the  calm,  cool,  deliberate  utterance  of  a  statesman, 


conipreliensive  enough  to  take  in  the  welfare  of  the  whole 
country.  No  wonder  that  the  friends  of  freedom  saw  in 
this  j)lain  man  of  Illinois  the  proper  standard-bearer  of 
all  the  moral  and  political  forces  which  could  be  united 
and  wielded  against  the  slave  power.  In  a  few  simple 
words  he  had  embodied  the  thought  of  the  loyal  nation, 
and  indicated  the  character  fit  to  lead  and  guide  the 
country  amid  perils  present  and  to  come. 

The  South  was  not  far  behind  the  North  in  recognizing 
Abraham  Lincoln  as  the  natural  leader  of  the  rising 
political  sentiment  of  the  country  against  slavery,  and  it 
was  equally  quick  in  its  efforts  to  counteract  and  destroy 
his  influence.  Its  papers  teemed  with  the  bitterest 
invectives  against  the  "  backwoodsman  of  Illinois,"  the 
"  flat-boatman,"  the  "  rail-splitter,"  the  "  third-rate  law- 
yer," and  much  else  and  worse. 

Preceding  the  repeal  of  the  Missouri  Compromise  I 
gave,  at  the  anniversary  of  the  American  and  Foreign 
Anti-Slavery  Society  in  New  York,  the  following  pic- 
ture of  the  state  of  the  anti-slavery  conflict  as  it  then 
existed : 

"  It  is  evident  that  there  is  in  this  country  a  purely  slavery  party, 
a  party  which  exists  for  no  other  earthly  purpose  but  to  promote  the 
interest  of  slavery.  It  is  known  by  no  particular  name,  and  has 
assumed  no  definite  shape,  but  its  branches  reach  far  and  wide  in 
church  and  state.  This  shapeless  and  nameless  party  is  not  intangi- 
ble in  other  and  more  important  respects.  It  has  a  fixed,  definite, 
and  comprehensive  policy  towards  the  whole  free  colored  population 
of  the  United  States.  I  understand  that  policy  to  comprehend :  First, 
the  complete  suppression  of  all  anti-slavery  discussion;  second,  the 
expulsion  of  the  entire  free  people  of  the  United  States ;  third,  the 
nationalization  of  slavery ;  fourth,  guarantees  for  the  endless  perpet- 
uation of  slavery  and  its  extension  over  Mexico  and  Central  America. 
Sir,  these  objects  are  forcibly  presented  to  us  in  the  stern  logic  of 
passing  events,  and  in  all  the  facts  that  have  been  before  us  during 
the  last  three  years.  The  country  has  been  and  is  dividing  on  these 
grand  issues.  Old  party  ties  are  broken.  Like  is  finding  its  like  on 
both  sides  of  these  issues,  and  the  great  battle  is  at  hand.    For  the 

HEAD    OF   THE    SLAVE   POWER.  365 

present  the  best  representative  of  tlie  slavery  party  is  the  Democratic 
party.  Its  great  head  for  the  president  is  President  Pierce,  whose 
boast  it  was  before  his  election,  that  his  whole  life  had  been  consistent 
with  the  interests  of  slavery — that  he  is  above  reproach  on  that  score. 
In  his  inaugural  address  he  reassures  the  South  on  this  point,  so  there 
shall  be  no  misapprehension.  Well,  the  head  of  the  slave  power 
being  in  power,  it  is  natural  that  the  pro-slavery  elements  should  be 
clustered  around  his  admission,  and  that  is  rapidly  being  done.  The 
stringent  protectionist  and  the  free-trader  strike  hands.  The  support- 
ers of  Fillmore  are  becoming  the  supporters  of  Pierce.  Silver  Gray 
Whigs  shake  hands  with  Hunker  Democrats,  the  former  only  differing 
from  the  latter  in  name.  They  are  in  fact  of  one  heart  and  one  mind, 
and  the  union  is  natural  and  perhaps  inevitable.  Pilate  and  Herod 
made  friends.  The  key-stone  to  the  arch  of  this  grand  union  of 
forces  of  the  slave  party  is  the  so-called  Compromise  of  1850.  In  that 
measure  we  have  all  the  objects  of  our  slaveholding  policy  specified. 
It  is,  sir,  favorable  to  this  view  of  the  situation,  that  the  whig  party 
and  the  democratic  party  bent  lower,  sunk  deeper,  and  strained  harder 
in  their  conventions,  preparatory  to  the  late  presidential  election,  to 
meet  the  demands  of  slavery.  Never  did  parties  come  before  the 
northern  people  with  propositions  of  such  undisguised  contempt  for 
the  moral  sentiment  and  religious  ideas  of  that  people.  They  dared 
to  ask  them  to  unite  with  them  in  a  war  upon  free  speech,  upon  con- 
science, and  to  drive  the  Almighty  presence  from  the  councils  of  the 
nation.  Resting  their  platforms  upon  the  fugitive  slave  bill,  they  have 
boldly  asked  this  people  for  political  power  to  execute  its  horrible 
and  hell-black  provisions.  The  history  of  that  election  reveals  with 
great  clearness  the  extent  to  which  slavery  has  "shot  its  leprous 
distillment "  through  the  life  blood  of  the  nation.  The  party  most 
thoroughly  opposed  to  the  cause  of  justice  and  humanity  triumphed, 
while  the  party  only  suspected  of  a  leaning  toward  those  principles 
was  overwhelmingly  defeated,  and  some  say  annihilated.  But  here  is 
a  still  more  important  fact,  and  still  better  discloses  the  designs  of  the 
slave  power.  It  is  a  fact  full  of  meaning,  that  no  sooner  did  the 
democratic  party  come  into  power  than  a  system  of  legislation  was 
presented  to  all  the  legislatures  of  the  Northern  States  designed  to  put 
those  States  in  harmony  with  the  fugitive  slave  law,  and  with  the 
malignant  spirit  evinced  by  the  national  government  towards  the  free 
colored  inhabitants  of  the  country.  The  whole  movement  on  the 
part  of  the  States  bears  unmistakable  evidence  of  having  one  origin, 
of  emanating  from  one  head,  and  urged  forward  by  one  power.  It 
was  simultaneous,  uniform,  and  general,  and  looked  only  to  one  end. 
It  was  intended  to  put  thorns  under  feet  already  bleeding;  to  crush  a 
people  already  bowed  down ;  to  enslave  a  people  already  but  half  free ; 


in  a  word,  it  was  intended  and  well  calculated  to  discourage,  dis- 
hearten, and  if  possible  to  drive  the  whole  free  colored  people  out  of 
the  country.  In  looking  at  the  black  law  then  recently  enacted  in  the 
State  of  Illinois  one  is  struck  dumb  by  its  enormity.  It  would  seem 
that  the  men  who  passed  that  law  had  not  only  successfully  banished 
from  their  minds  all  sense  of  justice,  but  all  sense  of  shame  as  well ; 
these  law  codes  propose  to  sell  the  bodies  and  souls  of  the  blacks  to 
provide  the  means  of  intelligence  and  refinement  for  the  whites ;  to 
rob  every  black  stranger  who  ventures  among  them  to  increase  their 
educational  fund. 

"  While  this  kind  of  legislation  is  goJng  on  in  the  States,  a  pro- 
slavery  political  board  of  health  is  being  established  at  Washington. 
Senators  Hale,  Chase,  and  Sumner  are  robbed  of  their  senatorial 
rights  and  dignity  as  representatives  of  sovereign  States,  because  they 
have  refused  to  be  inoculated  with  the  pro-slavery  virus  of  the  times. 
Among  the  services  that  a  senator  is  expected  to  perform  are  many 
that  can  only  be  done  efficiently  as  members  of  important  committees, 
and  the  slave  power  in  the  Senate,  in  saying  to  these  honorable  sena- 
tors, you  shall  not  serve  on  the  committees  of  this  body,  took  the  re- 
sponsibility of  insulting  and  robbing  the  States  which  have  sent  them 
there.  It  is  an  attempt  at  Washington  to  decide  for  the  States  who 
the  States  shall  send  to  the  Senate.  Sir,  it  strikes  me  that  this  aggress- 
ion on  the  part  of  the  slave  power  did  not  meet  at  the  hands  of  the 
proscribed  and  insulted  senators  the  rebuke  which  we  had  a  right  to 
expect  from  them.  It  seems  to  me  that  a  great  opportunity  was  lost, 
that  the  great  principle  of  senatorial  equality  was  left  undefended  at 
a  time  when  its  vindication  was  sternly  demanded.  But  it  is  not  to 
the  purpose  of  my  present  statement  to  criticize  the  conduct  of  friends. 
Much  should  be  left  to  the  discretion  of  anti-slavery  men  in  Con- 
gress. Charges  of  recreancy  should  never  be  made  but  on  the  most 
sufficient  grounds.  For  of  all  places  in  the  world  where  an  anti- 
slavery  man  needs  the  confidence  and  encouragement  of  his  friends,  I 
take  Washington — the  citadel  of  slavery — to  be  that  place. 

"  Let  attention  now  be  called  to  the  social  influences  operating  and 
cooperating  with  the  slave  power  of  the  time,  designed  to  promote  all 
its  malign  objects.  We  see  here  the  black  man  attacked  in  his  most 
vital  interests :  prejudice  and  hate  are  systematically  excited  against 
him.  The  wrath  of  other  laborers  is  stirred  up  against  him.  The 
Irish,  who,  at  home,  readily  sympathize  with  the  oppressed  every- 
where, are  instantly  taught  when  they  step  upon  our  soil  to  hate  and 
despise  the  negro.  They  are  taught  to  believe  that  he  eats  the  bread 
that  belongs  to  them.  The  cruel  lie  is  told  them,  that  we  deprive  them 
of  labor  and  receive  the  money  which  would  otherwise  make  its  way 
into  their  pockets.     Sir,  the  Irish-American  will  find  out  his  mistake 


one  day.  He  will  find  that  in  assuming  our  avocation,  he  has  also 
assumed  our  degradation.  But  for  the  present  we  are  the  sufferers. 
Our  old  employments  by  which  we  have  been  accustomed  to  gain  a 
livelihood  are  gradually  slipping  from  our  hands;  every  hour  sees  us 
elbowed  out  of  some  employment  to  make  room  for  some  newly- 
arrived  emigrant  from  the  Emerald  Isle,  whose  hunger  and  color 
entitle  him  to  special  favor.  These  white  men  are  becoming  house- 
servants,  cooks,  stewards,  waiters,  and  flunkies.  For  aught  I  see 
they  adjust  themselves  to  their  stations  with  all  proper  humility.  If 
they  cannot  rise  to  the  dignity  of  white  men,  they  show  that  they  can 
fall  to  the  degradation  of  black  men.  But  now,  sir,  look  once  more ! 
While  the  colored  people  are  thus  elbowed  out  of  employment ;  while 
a  ceaseless  enmity  in  the  Irish  is  excited  against  us ;  while  State  after 
State  enact  laws  against  us;  while  we  are  being  hunted  down  like 
wild  beasts ;  while  we  are  oppressed  with  a  sense  of  increasing  inse- 
curity, the  American  Colonization  Society,  with  hypocrisy  written 
on  its  brow,  comes  to  the  front,  awakens  to  new  life,  and  vigorously 
presses  its  scheme  for  our  expatriation  upon  the  attention  of  the  Amer- 
ican people.  Papers  have  been  started  in  the  North  and  the  South  to 
promote  this  long-cherished  object — to  get  rid  of  the  negro,  who  is 
presumed  to  be  a  standing  menace  to  slavery.  Each  of  these  papers 
is  adapted  to  the  latitude  in  which  it  is  published,  but  each  and  all 
are  united  in  calling  upon  the  government  for  appropriations  to  ena- 
ble the  Colonization  Society  to  send  us  out  of  the  country  by  steam. 
Evidently  this  society  looks  upon  our  extremity  as  their  opportunity, 
and  whenever  the  elements  are  stirred  against  us,  they  are  stimulated 
to  unusual  activity.  They  do  not  deplore  our  misfortunes,  but  rather 
rejoice  in  them,  since  they  prove  that  the  two  races  cannot  flourish 
on  the  same  soil.  But,  sir,  I  must  hasten.  I  have  thus  briefly  given 
my  view  of  one  aspect  of  the  present  condition  and  future  prospects 
of  the  colored  people  of  the  United  States.  And  what  I  have  said  is 
far  from  encouraging  to  my  afilicted  people.  I  have  seen  the  cloud 
gather  upon  the  sable  brows  of  some  who  hear  me.  I  confess  the 
case  looks  bad  enough.  Sir,  I  am  not  a  hopeful  man.  I  think  I  am 
apt  to  undercalculate  the  benefits  of  the  future.  Yet,  sir,  in  this 
seemingly  desperate  case,  I  do  not  despair  for  my  people.  There  is  a 
bright  side  to  almost  every  picture,  and  ours  is  no  exception  to  the 
general  rule.  If  the  influences  against  us  are  strong,  those  for  us  are 
also  strong.  To  the  inquiry,  will  our  enemies  prevail  in  the  execu- 
tion of  their  designs — in  my  God,  and  in  my  soul,  I  believe  they  will 
not.  Let  us  look  at  the  first  object  sought  for  by  the  slavery  party  of 
the  country,  viz.,  the  suppression  of  the  anti-slavery  discussion. 
They  desire  to  suppress  discussion  on  this  subject,  with  a  view  to  the 
peace  of  the  slaveholder  and  the  security  of  slavery.     Now,  sir. 


neither  the  principle  nor  the  subordinate  objects,  here  declared,  can 
be  at  all  gained  by  the  slave  power,  and  for  this  reason :  it  involves 
the  proposition  to  padlock  the  lips  of  the  v^^hites,  in  order  to  secure 
the  fetters  on  the  limbs  of  the  blacks.  The  right  of  speech,  precious 
and  priceless,  cannot — will  not — be  surrendered  to  slavery.  Its  sup- 
pression is  asked  for,  as  I  have  said,  to  give  peace  and  security  to 
slaveholders.  Sir,  that  thing  cannot  be  done.  God  has  interposed 
an  insuperable  obstacle  to  any  such  result.  '  There  can  be  nx>  peace, 
saith  my  God,  to  the  wicked. '  Suppose  it  were  possible  to  put  down 
this  discussion,  what  would  it  avail  the  guilty  slaveholder,  pillowed 
as  he  is  upon  the  heaving  bosoms  of  ruined  souls?  He  could  not 
have  a  peaceful  spirit.  If  every  anti-slavery  tongue  in  the  nation 
were  silent — every  anti-slavery  organization  dissolved — every  anti- 
slavery  periodical,  paper,  pamphlet,  book,  or  what  not,  searched  out, 
burned  to  ashes,  and  their  ashes  given  to  the  four  winds  of  heaven, 
still,  still  the  slaveholder  could  have  no  peace.  In  every  pulsation  of 
his  heart,  in  every  throb  of  his  life,  in  every  glance  of  his  eye,  in  the 
breeze  that  soothes,  and  in  the  thunder  that  startles,  would  be  waked 
up  an  accuser,  whose  cause  is,  '  thou  art  verily  guilty  concerning  thy 

This  is  no  fancy  sketch  of  the  times  indicated.  The 
situation  during  all  the  administration  of  President  Pierce 
was  only  less  threatening  and  stormy  than  that  under 
the  administration  of  James  Buchanan.  One  sowed,  the 
otlier  reaped.  One  was  tlie  wind,  the  other  was  the 
whirlwind.  Intoxicated  by  their  success  in  repealing 
the  Missouri  compromise — in  divesting  the  native-born 
colored  man  of  American  citizenship — in  harnessing  both 
the  Whig  and  Democratic  parties  to  the  car  of  slavery, 
and  in  holding  continued  possession  of  the  national  gov- 
ernment, the  propagandists  of  slavery  threw  off  all  dis- 
guises, abandoned  all  semblance  of  moderation,  and  very 
naturally  and  inevitably  proceeded,  under  Mr.  Buchanan, 
to  avail  themselves  of  all  the  advantages  of  their  victories. 
Having  legislated  out  of  existence  the  great  national 
wall,  erected  in  the  better  days  of  the  republic,  against 
the  spread  of  slavery,  and  against  the  increase  of  its 
power — having  blotted  out  all  distinction,  as  they  thought, 
between  freedom  and  slavery  in  the  law,  theretofore,  gov- 

JOHN    BROWN.  369 

erning  the  Territories  of  the  United  States,  and  having 
left  the  whole  question  of  the  legislation  or  prohibition  of 
slavery  to  be  decided  by  the  people  of  a  Territory,  the 
next  thing  in  order  was  to  fill  up  the  Territory  of  Kan- 
sas— ^the  one  likely  to  be  first  organized — with  a  people 
friendly  to  slavery,  and  to  keep  out  all  such  as  were 
opposed  to  making  that  Territory  a  free   State.     Here 
was  an  open  invitation  to  a  fierce  and  bitter  strife ;  and 
the  history  of  the  times  shows  how  promptly  that  invita- 
tion was  accepted  by  both  classes  to  which  it  was  given, 
and  the  scenes  of  lawless  violence  and  blood  that  followed. 
All  advantages  were  at  first  on  the  side  of  those  who 
were  for  making  Kansas  a  slave  State.     The  moral  force 
of  the  repeal  of  the  Missouri  compromise  was  with  them ; 
the  strength  of  the  triumphant  Democratic  party  was 
with  them ;  the  power  and  patronage  of  the  federal  gov- 
ernment was  with  them ;  the  various  governors,  sent  out 
under  the  Territorial  government,  were  with  them ;  and, 
above  all,  the  proximity  of  the  Territory  to  the  slave 
State  of  Missouri  favored  them  and  all  their  designs. 
Those  who  opposed  the  making  Kansas  a  slave  State,  for 
the  most  part  were  far  away  from   the    battle-ground, 
residing  chiefly  in  New  England,  more  than  a  thousand 
miles  from  the  eastern  border  of  the  Territory,  and  their 
direct  way  of  entering  it  was  through  a  country  violently 
hostile  to  them.     With  such  odds  against  them,  and  only 
an  idea — though  a  grand  one — to  support  them,  it  will 
ever  be  a  wonder  that  they  succeeded  in  making  Kansas 
a  free  State.     It  is  not  my  purpose  to  write  particularly 
of  this  or  of  any  other  phase  of  the  conflict  with  slavery, 
but  simply  to  indicate  the  nature  of  the  struggle,  and  the 
successive  steps  leading  to  the  final  result.     The  import- 
ant point  to  me,  as  one  desiring  to  see  the  slave  power 
crippled,  slavery  limited  and  abolished,  was  the  effect  of 
this   Kansas   battle   uDon   the   moral   sentiment   of  the 


North :  how  it  made  abolitionists  before  they  themselves 
became  aware  of  it,  and  how  it  rekindled  the  zeal,  stimu- 
lated the  activity,  and  strengthened  the  faith  of  our  old 
anti-slavery  forces.  "  Draw  on  me  for  11,000  per  month 
while  the  conflict  lasts,"  said  the  great-hearted  Gerrit 
Smith.  George  L.  Stearns  poured  out  his  thousands,  and 
anti-slavery  men  of  smaller  means  were  proportionally 
liberal.  H.  W.  Beecher  shouted  the  right  word  at  the 
head  of  a  mighty  column ;  Sumner  in  the  Senate  spoke 
as  no  man  had  ever  spoken  there  before.  Lewis  Tappan, 
representing  one  class  of  the  old  opponents  of  slavery, 
and  William  L.  Garrison  the  other,  lost  sight  of  their 
former  difPerences,  and  bent  all  their  energies  to  the 
freedom  of  Kansas.  But  these  and  others  were  merely 
generators  of  anti-slavery  force.  The  men  who  went  to 
Kansas  with  the  purpose  of  making  it  a  free  State  were 
the  heroes  and  martyrs.  One  of  the  leaders  in  this  holy 
crusade  for  freedom,  with  whom  I  was  brought  into  near 
relations,  was  John  Brown,  whose  person,  house,  and 
purposes  I  have  already  described.  This  brave  old  man 
and  his  sons  were  amongst  the  first  to  hear  and  heed  the 
trumpet  of  freedom  calling  them  to  battle.  What  they 
did  and  suffered,  what  they  sought  and  gained,  and  by 
what  means,  are  matters  of  history,  and  need  not  be 
repeated  here. 

When  it  became  evident,  as  it  soon  did,  that  the  war 
for  and  against  slavery  in  Kansas  was  not  to  be  decided 
by  the  peaceful  means  of  words  and  ballots,  but  that 
swords  and  bullets  were  to  be  employed  on  both  sides. 
Captain  John  Brown  felt  that  now,  after  long  years  of 
waiting,  his  hour  had  come,  and  never  did  man  meet  the 
perilous  requirements  of  any  occasion  more  cheerfully, 
courageously,  and  disinterestedly  than  he.  I  met  him 
often  during  this  struggle,  and  saw  deeper  into  his  soul 
than  when  I  met  him  in  Springfield  seven  or  eight  years 

HIS    WORK   IN   KANSAS.  371 

before,  and  all  I  saw  of  him  gave  me  a  more  favorable 
impression  of  the  man,  and  inspired  me  with  a  higher 
respect  for  his  character.  In  his  repeated  visits  to  the 
East  to  obtain  necessary  arms  and  supplies,  he  often  did 
me  the  honor  of  spending  hours  and  days  with  me  at 
Rochester.  On  more  than  one  occasion  I  got  up  meet- 
ings and  solicited  aid  to  be  used  by  him  for  the  cause, 
and  I  may  say  without  boasting  that  my  efforts  in  this  re- 
spect were  not  entirely  fruitless.  Deeply  interested  as 
"  Ossawatomie  Brown  "  was  in  Kansas,  he  never  lost  sight 
of  what  he  called  his  greater  work — the  liberation  of  all 
the  slaves  in  the  United  States.  But  for  the  then  present 
he  saw  his  way  to  the  great  end  through  Kansas.  It 
would  be  a  grateful  task  to  tell  of  his  exploits  in  the  bor- 
der struggle — how  he  met  persecution  with  persecution, 
war  with  war,  strategy  with  strategy,  assassination  and 
house-burning  with  signal  and  terrible  retaliation,  till 
even  the  bloodthirsty  propagandists  of  slavery  were  com- 
pelled to  cry  for  quarter.  The  horrors  wrought  by  his 
iron  hand  cannot  be  contemplated  without  a  shudder,  but 
it  is  the  shudder  whicli  one  feels  at  the  execution  of 
a  murderer.  The  amputation  of  a  limb  is  a  severe  trial 
to  feeling,  but  necessity  is  a  full  justification  of  it  to  rea- 
son. To  call  out  a  murderer  at  midnight,  and  without 
note  or  warning,  judge  or  jury,  run  him  through  with  a 
sword,  was  a  terrible  remedy  for  a  terrible  malady. 

The  question  was  not  merely  which  class  should  prevail 
in  Kansas,  but  whether  free-State  men  should  live  there 
at  all.  The  border  ruffians  from  Missouri  had  openly  de- 
clared their  purpose  not  only  to  make  Kansas  a  slave 
State,  but  that  they  would  make  it  impossible  for  free- 
State  men  to  live  there.  They  burned  their  towns,  burned 
their  .farm-houses,  and  by  assassination  spread  terror 
among  them,  until  many  of  the  free-State  settlers  were 
compelled   to  escape  for  their  lives.     John  Brown  was 


tlicreforc  the  logical  result  of  slaveliolding  persecutions. 
Until  the  lives  of  tyrants  and  murderers  shall  become 
more  precious  in  the  sight  of  men  than  justice  and 
liberty,  John  Brown  will  need  no  defender.  In  dealing 
with  the  ferocious  enemies  of  the  free-State  cause  in 
Kansas,  he  not  only  showed  boundless  courage  but  emi- 
nent military  skill.  With  men  so  few,  and  odds  against 
him  so  great,  few  captains  ever  surpassed  him  in  achieve- 
ments, some  of  which  seem  too  disproportionate  for  belief, 
and  yet  no  voice  has  yet  called  them  in  question.  With 
only  eight  men  he  met,  fought,  whipped,  and  captured 
Henry  Clay  Pate  with  twenty-five  well-armed  and  well- 
mounted  men.  In  this  battle  he  selected  his  ground 
so  wisely,  handled  his  men  so  skillfully,  and  attacked  his 
enemies  so  vigorously,  that  they  could  neither  run  nor 
fight,  and  were  therefore  compelled  to  surrender  to  a 
force  less  than  one-third  their  own.  With  just  thirty  men 
on  another  memorable  occasion  he  met  and  vanquished 
400  Missourians  under  the  command  of  General  Read. 
These  men  had  come  into  the  territory  under  an  oath 
never  to  return  to  their  homes  in  Missouri  till  they  had 
stamped  out  the  last  vestige  of  the  free-State  spirit  in 
Kansas.  But  a  brush  with  old  Brown  instantly  took  this 
high  conceit  out  of  them,  and  they  were  glad  to  get  home 
upon  any  terms,  without  stopping  to  stipulate.  With  less 
than  100  men  to  defend  the  town  of  Lawrence,  he  offered 
to  lead  them  and  give  battle  to  1,400  men  on  the  banks 
of  the  Waukerusia  river,  and  was  much  vexed  when 
his  offer  was  refused  by  General  Jim  Lane  and  others,  to 
whom  the  defense  of  the  place  was  committed.  Before 
leaving  Kansas  he  w^ent  into  the  border  of  Missouri  and 
liberated  a  dozen  slaves  in  a  single  night,  and  despite  of 
slave  laws  and  marshals  he  brought  these  people  through 
half  a  dozen  States  and  landed  them  safe  in  Canada.  The 
successful  efforts  of  the  North  in  making  Kansas  a  free 


State,  despite  all  the  sophistical  doctrines  and  sanguinary 
measures  of  the  South  to  make  it  a  slave  State,  exercised 
a  potent  influence  upon  subsequent  political  forces  and 
events  in  the  then-near  future. 

It  is  interesting  to  note  the  facility  with  wliich  the 
statesmanship  of  a  section  of  the  country  adapted  its  con- 
victions to  changed  conditions.  When  it  was  found  that 
the  doctrine  of  popular  sovereignty  (first,  I  think,  invent- 
ed by  General  Cass  and  afterward  adopted  by  Stephen  A. 
Douglas)  failed  to  make  Kansas  a  slave  State,  and  could 
not  be  safely  trusted  in  other  emergencies,  Southern 
statesmen  promptly  abandoned  and  reprobated  that  doc- 
trine, and  took  what  they  considered  firmer  ground. 
They  lost  faith  in  the  rights,  powers,  and  wisdom  of  the 
people  and  took  refuge  in  the  Constitution.  Henceforth 
the  favorite  doctrine  of  the  South  was  that  the  people  of 
a  territory  had  no  voice  in  the  matter  of  slavery  what- 
ever ;  that  the  Constitution  of  the  United  States,  of  its 
own  force  and  effect,  carried  slavery  safely  into  any  terri- 
tory of  the  United  States  and  protected  the  system  there 
until  it  ceased  to  be  a  territory  and  became  a  State.  The 
practical  operation  of  this  doctrine  would  be  to  make  all 
the  future  new  States  slaveholding  States,  for  slavery 
once  planted  and  nursed  for  years  in  a  territory  would 
easily  strengthen  itself  against  the  evil  day  and  defy  erad- 
ication. This  doctrine  was  in  some  sense  supported 
by  Chief -Justice  Taney  in  the  infamous  Dred  Scott  de- 
cision. This  new  ground,  however,  was  destined  to 
bring  misfortune  to  its  inventors,  for  it  divided  for  a  time 
the  Democratic  party,  one  faction  of  it  going  with  John 
C.  Breckenridge  and  the  other  espousing  the  cause  of 
Stephen  A.  Douglas ;  the  one  held  firmly  to  the  doctrine 
that  the  United  States  Constitution,  without  any  legisla- 
tion, territorial,  national,  or  otherwise,  by  its  own  force 
and  effect,  carried  slavery  into  all  the  territories  of  the 

374  harper's  ferry. 

United  States  ;  the  other  held  that  the  people  of  a  terri- 
tory had  the  right  to  admit  slavery  or  reject  slavery,  as 
in  their  judgment  they  might  deem  best. 

Now,  while  this  war  of  words — this  conflict  of  doctrines 
— was  in  progress,  the  portentous  shadow  of  a  stupendous 
civil  war  became  more  and  more  visible.  Bitter  com- 
plaints were  raised  by  the  slaveholders  that  they  were 
about  to  be  despoiled  of  their  proper  share  in  territory 
won  by  a  common  valor  or  bought  by  a  common  treasure. 
The  North,  on  the  other  hand,  or  rather  a  large  and 
growing  party  at  the  North,  insisted  that  the  complaint 
was  luireasonable  and  groundless ;  that  nothing  properly 
considered  as  property  was  excluded  or  intended  to 
be  excluded  from  the  territories ;  that  Southern  men 
could  settle  in  any  territory  of  the  United  States  with 
some  kinds  of  property,  and  on  the  same  footing  and  with 
the  same  protection  as  citizens  of  the  North ;  that  men 
and  women  are  not  property  in  the  same  sense  as  houses, 
lands,  horses,  sheep,  and  swine  are  property  ;  and  that 
the  fathers  of  the  Republic  neither  intended  the  exten- 
sion nor  the  perpetuity  of  slavery ;  that  liberty  is 
national  and  slavery  is  sectional.  From  1856  to  1860 
the  whole  land  rocked  with  this  great  controversy.  When 
the  explosive  force  of  this  controversy  had  already  weak- 
ened the  bolts  of  the  American  Union  ;  when  the  agita- 
tion of  the  public  mind  was  at  its  topmost  height ;  when 
the  two  sections  were  at  their  extreme  points  of  differ- 
ence ;  when,  comprehending  the  perilous  situation,  such 
statesmen  of  the  North  as  William  H.  Seward  sought  to 
allay  the  rising  storm  by  soft,  persuasive  speech,  and 
when  all  hope  of  compromise  had  nearly  vanished,  as  if 
to  banish  even  the  last  glimmer  of  hope  for  peace  between 
the  sections  John  Brown  came  upon  the  scene.  On  the 
night  of  the  16th  of  October,  1859,  there  appeared  near 
the  confluence  of  the  Potomac  and  Shenandoah  rivers  a . 



party  of  nineteen  men — ^fourteen  white  and  five  colored. 
Tliey  were  not  only  armed  themselves,  but  they  brought 
with  them  a  large  supply  of  arms  for  such  persons  as 
might  join  them.  These  men  invaded  the  town  of  Har- 
per's Ferry,  disarmed  the  watchman,  took  possession  of 
the  arsenal,  rifle  factory,  armory,  and  other  government 
property  at  that  place,  arrested  and  made  prisoners 
of  nearly  all  the  prominent  citizens  in  the  neighborhood, 
collected  about  fifty  slaves,  put  bayonets  into  the  hands 
of  such  as  were  able  and  willing  to  fight  for  their  liberty, 
killed  three  men,  proclaimed  general  emancipation,  held 
the  ground  more  than  thirty  hours,  were  subsequently 
overpowered  and  nearly  all  killed,  wounded,  or  captured 
by  a  body  of  United  States  troops  under  command  of  Col. 
Eobert  E.  Lee,  since  famous  as  the  rebel  General  Lee. 
Three  out  of  the  nineteen  invaders  were  captured  while 
fighting,  and  one  of  them  was  Capt.  John  Brown,  the  man 
who  originated,  planned,  and  commanded  the  expedition. 
At  the  time  of  his  capture  Capt.  Brown  was  supposed  to 
be  mortally  wounded,  as  he  had  several  ugly  gashes  and 
bayonet  wounds  on  his  head  and  body,  and  apprehend- 
ing that  he  might  speedily  die,  or  that  he  might  be  res- 
cued by  his  friends,  and  thus  the  opportunity  to  make  him 
a  signal  example  of  slaveholding  vengeance  would  be  lost, 
his  captors  hurried  him  to  Charlestown,  10  miles  further 
within  the  border  of  Virginia,  placed  him  in  prison 
strongly  guarded  by  troops,  and  before  his  wounds  were 
healed  he  was  brought  into  court,  subjected  to  a  nominal 
trial,  convicted  of  high  treason  and  inciting  slaves  to 
insurrection,  and  was  executed. 

His  corpse  was  given  up  to  his  woe-stricken  widow,  and 
she,  assisted  by  anti-slavery  friends,  caused  it  to  be  borne 
to  North  Elba,  Essex  county,  N.  Y.,  and  there  his  dust 
now  reposes  amid  the  silent,  solemn,  and  snowy  grandeurs 
of  the  Adirondacks.     This  raid  upon  Harper's  Ferry  was 


as  the  last  straw  to  the  camel's  back.  What  in  the  tone 
of  Southern  sentiment  had  been  fierce  before,  became  fu- 
rious and  uncontrollable  now.  A  scream  for  vengeance 
came  up  from  all  sections  of  the  slave  States  and  from 
great  multitudes  in  the  North.  All  who  were  supposed 
to  liave  been  any  way  connected  with  John  Brown  were 
be  to  hunted  down  and  surrendered  to  the  tender  mercies  of 
slaveholding  and  panic-stricken  Virginia,  and  there  to  be 
tried  after  the  fashion  of  John  Brown's  trial,  and  of 
course  to  be  summarily  executed. 

On  the  evening  when  the  news  came  that  John  Brown 
had  taken  and  was  then  holding  the  town  of  Harper's 
Ferry,  it  so  happened  that  I  was  speaking  to  a  large  audi- 
ence in  National  Hall,  Philadelphia.  The  announcement 
came  upon  us  with  the  startling  effect  of  an  earthquake. 
It  was  something  to  make  the  boldest  hold  his  breath.  I 
saw  at  once  that  my  old  friend  had  attempted  what  he 
had  long  ago  resolved  to  do,  and  I  felt  certain  that  the 
result  must  be  his  capture  and  destruction.  As  I  ex- 
pected, the  next  day  brought  the  news  that  with  two  or 
three  men  he  had  fortified  and  was  holding  a  small  engine- 
house,  but  that  he  was  surrounded  by  a  body  of  Virginia 
militia,  who  thus  far  had  not  ventured  to  capture  the  insur- 
gents, but  that  escape  was  impossible.  A  few  hours  later 
and  word  came  that  Colonel  Robert  E.  Lee  Avith  a  com- 
pany of  United  States  troops  had  made  a  breach  in  Capt. 
Brown's  fort,  and  had  captured  him  alive,  though  mortally 
wounded.  His  carpet-bag  had  been  secured  by  Governor 
Wise,  and  it  was  found  to  contain  numerous  letters  and 
documents  which  directly  implicated  Gerritt  Smith,  Joshua 
E.  Giddings,  Samuel  G.  Howe,  Frank  P.  Sanborn,  and 
myself.  This  intelligence  was  soon  followed  by  a  telegram 
saying  that  we  were  all  to  be  arrested.  Knowing  that  I  was 
then  in  Philadelphia,  stopping  with  my  friend  Thomas  J. 
Dorsey,  Mr.  John  Hern,  the  telegraph  operator,  came  to 

SAVES   HIS    PAPERS.  377 

me  and  with  others  uro;ed  me  to  leave  the  city  by  the  first 
train,  as  it  was  known  through  the  newspapers  that  I  was 
then  in  Philadelphia,  and  officers  might  even  then  be  on 
my  track.  To  me  there  was  nothing  improbable  in  all 
this.  My  friends  for  the  most  part  were  appalled  at  the 
thought  of  my  being  arrested  then  or  there,  or  while  on 
my  way  across  the  ferry  from  Walnut  street  wharf  to 
Camden,  for  there  was  where  I  felt  sure  the  arrest  would 
be  made,  and  asked  some  of  them  to  go  so  far  as  this  with 
me  merely  to  see  what  might  occur,  but  upon  one  ground 
or  another  they  all  thought  it  best  not  to  be  found  in  my 
company  at  such  a  time,  except  dear  old  Franklin  Turner 
— a  true  man.  The  truth  is,  that  in  the  excitement  which 
prevailed  my  friends  had  reason  to  fear  that  the  very  fact 
that  they  were  with  me  would  be  a  sufficient  reason  for 
their  arrest  with  me.  The  delay  in  the  departure  of  the 
steamer  seemed  unusually  long  to  me,  for  I  confess  I  was 
seized  with  a  desire  to  reach  a  more  northern  latitude. 
My  friend  Frank  did  not  leave  my  side  till  "  all  ashore  " 
was  ordered  and  the  paddles  began  to  move.  I  reached 
New  York  at  night,  still  under  tlie  apprehension  of  arrest 
at  any  moment,  but  no  signs  of  such  an  event  being  made, 
I  went  at  once  to  the  Barclay  street  ferry,  took  the  boat 
across  the  river,  and  went  direct  to  Washington  street, 
Hoboken,  the  home  of  Mrs.  Marks,  where  I  spent  the 
night,  and  I  may  add  without  undue  profession  of  timidity, 
an  anxious  night.  The  morning  papers  brought  no  relief, 
for  they  announced  that  the  government  would  spare  no 
pains  in  ferreting  out  and  bringing  to  punishment  all 
who  were  connected  with  the  Harper's  Ferry  outrage,  and 
that  papers  as  well  as  persons  would  be  searched  for.  I 
was  now  somewhat  uneasy,  from  the  fact  that  sundry  let- 
ters and  a  constitution  written  by  John  Brown  were 
locked  up  in  my  desk  in  Rochester.  In  order  to  prevent 
these  papers  from  falling  into  the  hands  of  the  government 

378  HE  GOES   TO   CANADA. 

of  Virginia,  I  got  my  friend,  Miss  Ottilia  Assing,  to  write 
at  my  dictation  the  following  telegram  to  B.  F.  Blackall, 
the  telegraph  operator  in  Rochester,  a  friend  and  frequent 
visitor  at  my  house,  who  would  readily  understand  the 
meaning  of  the  dispatch  : 

**B.  F.  Blackall,  Esq.: 

"  Tell  Lewis  (my  oldest  son)  to  secure  all  the  important  papers  in 
my  high  desk." 

I  did  not  sign  my  name,  and  the  result  showed  that  I 
had  rightly  judged  that  Mr.  Blackall  would  understand 
and  promptly  attend  to  the  request.  The  mark  of  the 
chisel  with  which  the  desk  was  opened  is  still  on  the 
drawer,  and  is  one  of  the  traces  of  the  John  Brown  raid. 
Having  taken  measures  to  secure  my  papers,  the  trouble 
was  to  know  just  what  to  do  with  myself.  To  stay  in 
Hoboken  was  out  of  the  question,  and  to  go  to  Rochester 
was  to  all  appearance  to  go  into  the  hands  of  the  hunters, 
for  they  would  naturally  seek  me  at  my  home  if  they 
sought  me  at  all.  I,  however,  resolved  to  go  home  and 
risk  my  safety  there.  I  felt  sure  that  once  in  the  city  I 
could  not  be  easily  taken  from  there  without  a  preliminary 
hearing  upon  the  requisition,  and  not  then  if  the  people 
could  be  made  aware  of  what  was  in  progress.  But  how 
to  get  to  Rochester  was  a  serious  question.  It  would  not 
do  to  go  to  New  York  city  and  take  the  train,  for  that  city 
was  not  less  incensed  against  John  Brown  conspirators 
than  many  parts  of  the  South.  The  course  hit  upon  by 
my  friends,  Mr.  Johnston  and  Miss  Assing,  was  to  take 
me  at  night  in  a  private  conveyance  from  Hoboken  to 
Paterson,  where  I  could  take  the  Erie  railroad  for  home. 
This  plan  was  carried  out,  and  I  reached  home  in  safety, 
but  had  been  there  but  a  few  moments  when  I  was  called 
upon  by  Samuel  D.  Porter,  Esq.,  and  my  neighbor,  Lieu- 
tenant-Governor Selden,  who  informed  me  that  the  gov- 
ernor of  the  State  would  certainly  surrender  me  on  a 


proper  requisition  from  the  governor  of  Virginia,  and  that 
while  the  people  of  Rochester  would  not  permit  me  to  be 
taken  South,  yet,  in  order  to  avoid  collision  with  the  gov- 
ernment and  consequent  bloodshed,  they  advised  me  to 
quit  the  country,  which  I  did — going  to  Canada.  Gov- 
ernor Wise,  in  the  meantime,  being  advised  that  I  had  left 
Rochester  for  the  State  of  Michigan,  made  requisition  on 
the  governor  of  that  State  for  my  surrender  to  Virginia. 
The  following  letter  from  Governor  Wise  to  President 
James  Buchanan  (which  since  the  war  was  sent  me  by 
B.  F.  Lossing,  the  historian),  will  show  by  what  means 
the  governor  of  Virginia  meant  to  get  me  in  his  power, 
and  that  my  apprehensions  of  arrest  were  not  altogether 

groundless : 


Richmond,  Va.,  Nov.  13,  1859, 
To  His  Excellency  James  Buchanan,  President  of  the  United  States,  and 
to  the  Honorable  Postmaster- General  of  the  United  States : 
Gentlemen — I  have  information  such  as  has  caused  me,  upon 
proper  affidavits,  to  make  requisition  upon  the  Executive  of  Michigan 
for  the  delivery  up  of  the  person  of  Frederick  Douglass,  a  negro  man, 
supposed  now  to  be  in  Michigan,  charged  with  murder,  robbery,  and 
inciting  servile  insurrection  in  the  State  of  Virginia.  My  agents  for 
the  arrest  and  reclamation  of  the  person  so  charged  are  Benjamin  M. 
Morris  and  William  N.  Kelly.  The  latter  has  the  requisition,  and 
will  wait  on  you  to  the  end  of  obtaining  nominal  authority  as  post- 
office  agents.  They  need  be  very  secretive  in  this  matter,  and  some 
pretext  for  traveling  through  the  dangerous  section  for  the  execution 
of  the  laws  in  this  behalf,  and  some  protection  against  obtrusive,  un- 
ruly, or  lawless  violence.  If  it  be  proper  so  to  do,  will  the  postmas- 
ter-general be  pleased  to  give  to  Mr.  Kelly,  for  each  of  these  men,  a 
permit  and  authority  to  act  as  detectives  for  the  post-office  depart- 
ment, without  pay,  but  to  pass  and  repass  without  question,  delay,  or 

Respectfully  submitted  by  your  obedient  servant, 

Henry  A.  Wise. 

There  is  no  reason  to  doubt  that  James  Buchanan  af- 
forded   Governor  Wise  all  the  aid  and  cooperation  for 
which  he  was  asked.     I  have  been  informed  that  several 


United  States  marshals  were  in  Rochester  in  search  of 
me  within  six  hours  after  my  departure.  I  do  not  know 
that  I  can  do  better  at  this  stage  of  my  story  tlian  to  in- 
sert the  following  letter,  written  by  me  to  the  Rochester 
Democrat  and  American : 

Canada  West,  Oct.  31,  1859. 
Mr.  Editor  : 

I  notice  that  the  telegraph  makes  Mr.  Cook  (one  of  the  unfortunate 
insurgents  at  Harper's  Ferry,  and  now  a  prisoner  in  the  hands  of  the 
thing  calling  itself  the  Government  of  Virginia,  but  which  in  fact  is 
but  an  organized  conspiracy  by  one  part  of  the  people  against  another 
and  weaker)  denounce  me  as  a  coward,  and  assert  that  I  promised  to 
be  present  in  person  at  the  Harper's  Ferry  insurrection.  This  is  cer- 
tainly a  very  grave  impeachment,  whether  viewed  in  its  bearings  upon 
friends  or  upon  foes,  and  you  will  not  think  it  strange  that  I  should 
take  a  somewhat  serious  notice  of  it.  Having  no  acquaintance  what- 
ever with  Mr.  Cook,  and  never  having  exchanged  a  word  with  him 
about  the  Harper's  Ferry  insurrection,  I  am  disposed  to  doubt  if  he 
could  have  used  the  language  concerning  me  which  the  wires  attribute 
to  him.  The  lightning,  when  speaking  for  itself,  is  among  the  most 
direct,  reliable,  and  truthful  of  things;  but  when  speaking  of  the 
terror-stricken  slaveholders  at  Harper's  Ferry,  it  has  been  made  the 
swiftest  of  liars.  Under  its  nimble  and  trembling  fingers  it  magnifies 
17  men  into  700,  and  has  since  filled  the  columns  of  the  New  York 
Herald  for  days  with  its  interminable  contradictions.  But  assuming 
that  it  has  told  only  the  simple  truth  as  to  the  sayings  of  Mr.  Cook  in 
this  instance,  I  have  this  answer  to  make  to  my  accuser:  Mr.  Cook 
may  be  perfectly  right  in  denouncing  me  as  a  coward;  I  have  not  one 
word  to  say  in  defense  or  vindication  of  my  character  for  courage ;  I 
have  always  been  more  distinguished  for  running  than  fighting,  and, 
tried  by  the  Harper's-Ferry-insurrection-test,  I  am  most  miserably 
deficient  in  courage,  even  more  so  than  Cook  when  he  deserted  his 
brave  old  captain  and  fled  to  the  mountains.  To  this  extent  Mr.  Cook 
is  entirely  right,  and  will  meet  no  contradiction  from  me,  or  from  any- 
body else.  But  wholly,  grievously,  and  most  unaccountably  wrong  is 
Mr.  Cook  when  he  asserts  that  I  promised  to  be  present  in  person  at 
the  Harper's  Ferry  insurrection.  Of  whatever  other  imprudence  and 
indiscretion  I  may  have  been  guilty,  I  have  never  made  a  promise  so 
rash  and  wild  as  this.  The  taking  of  Harper's  Ferry  was  a  measure 
never  encouraged  by  my  word  or  by  my  vote.  At  any  time  or  place, 
miy  wisdom  or  my  cowardice  has  not  only  kept  me  from  Harper's 
Ferry,  but  has  equally  kept  me  from  making  any  promise  to  go  there. 
I  desire  to  be  quite  emphatic  here,  for  of  all  guilty  men,  he  is  the 

JOHN  brown's  GHOST^  381 

guiltiest  who  lures  his  fellow-men  to  an  undertaking  of  this  sort,  under 
promise  of  assistance  which  he  afterwards  fails  to  render.  I  therefore 
declare  that  there  is  no  man  living,  and  no  man  dead,  who,  if  living, 
could  truthfully  say  that  I  ever  promised  him,  or  anybody  else,  either 
conditionally,  or  otherwise,  that  I  would  be  present  in  person  at  the 
Harper's  Ferry  insurrection.  My  field  of  labor  for  the  abolition  of 
slavery  has  not  extended  to  an  attack  upon  the  United  States  arsenal. 
In  the  teeth  of  the  documents  already  published  and  of  those  which 
may  hereafter  be  published,  I  affirm  that  no  man  connected  with  that 
insurrection,  from  its  noble  and  heroic  leader  down,  can  connect  my 
name  with  a  single  broken  promise  of  any  sort  whatever.  So  much  I 
deem  it  proper  to  say  negatively.  The  time  for  a  full  statement  of 
what  I  know  and  of  all  I  know  of  this  desperate  but  sublimely  dis- 
interested effort  to  emancipate  the  slaves  of  Maryland  and  Virginia 
from  their  cruel  task-masters,  has  not  yet  come,  and  may  never  come. 
In  the  denial  which  I  have  now  made,  my  motive  is  more  a  respectful 
consideration  for  the  opinions  of  the  slaves'  friends  than  from  my 
fear  of  being  made  an  accomplice  in  the  general  conspiracy  against 
slavery,  when  there  is  a  reasonable  hope  for  success.  Men  who  live 
by  robbing  their  fellow-men  of  their  labor  and  liberty  have  forfeited 
their  right  to  know  anything  of  the  thoughts,  feelings,  or  purposes  of 
those  whom  they  rob  and  plunder.  They  have  by  the  single  act  of 
slaveholding  voluntarily  placed  themselves  beyond  the  laws  of  justice 
and  honor,  and  have  become  only  fitted  for  companionship  with 
thieves  and  pirates — the  common  enemies  of  God  and  of  all  mankind. 
While  it  shall  be  considered  right  to  protect  one's  self  against  thieves, 
burglars,  robbery,  and  assassins,  and  to  slay  a  wild  beast  in  the  act  of 
devouring  his  human  prey,  it  can  never  be  wrong  for  the  imbruted 
and  whip-scarred  slaves,  or  their  friends,  to  hunt,  harass,  and  even 
strike  down  the  traffickers  in  human  flesh.  If  anybody  is  disposed  to 
think  less  of  me  on  account  of  this  sentiment,  or  because  I  may  have 
•had  a  knowledge  of  what  was  about  to  occur,  and  did  not  assume  the 
base  and  detestable  character  of  an  informer,  he  is  a  man  whose  good 
or  bad  opinion  of  me  may  be  equally  repugnant  and  despicable. 

Entertaining  these  sentiments,  I  may  be  asked  why  I  did  not  join 
John  Brown— the  noble  old  hero  whose  one  right  hand  had  shaken  the 
foundation  of  the  American  Union,  and  whose  ghost  will  haunt  the 
bed-chambers  of  all  the  born  and  unborn  slaveholders  of  Virginia 
through  all  their  generations,  filling  them  with  alarm  and  conster- 
nation. My  answer  to  this  has  already  been  given;  at  least  impliedly 
given — "The  tools  to  those  who  can  use  them!"  Let  every  man 
work  for  the  abolition  of  slavery  in  his  own  way.  I  would  help  all 
and  hinder  none.  My  position  in  regard  to  the  Harper's  Ferry  insur- 
rection may  be  easily  inferred  from  these  remarks,  and  I  shall  be  glad 


if  those  p.apers  which  have  spoken  of  me  in  connection  with  it  would 
find  room  for  this  brief  statement.  I  have  no  apology  for  keeping  out 
of  the  way  of  those  gentlemanly  United  States  marshals,  who  are  said 
to  have  paid  Rochester  a  somewhat  protracted  visit  lately,  with  a  view 
to  an  interview  with  me.  A  government  recognizing  the  validity  of 
the  Dred  Scott  decision  at  such  a  time  as  this,  is  not  likely  to  have  any 
very  charitable  feelings  towards  me,  and  if  I  am  to  meet  its  repre- 
sentatives I  prefer  to  do  so  at  least  upon  equal  terms.  If  I  have  com- 
mitted any  offense  against  society  I  have  done  so  on  the  soil  of  the 
State  of  New  York,  and  I  should  be  perfectly  willing  to  be  arraigned 
there  before  an  impartial  jury ;  but  I  have  quite  insuperable  objections 
to  being  caught  by  the  hounds  of  Mr.  Buchanan,  and  "bagged"  by 
Gov.  Wise.  For  this  appears  to  be  the  arrangement.  Buchanan  does 
the  fighting  and  hunting,  and  Wise  "  6a^8  "  the  game.  Some  reflec- 
tions may  be  made  upon  my  leaving  on  a  tour  to  England  just  at  this 
time.  I  have  only  to  say  that  my  going  to  that  country  has  been 
rather  delayed  than  hastened  by  the  insurrection  at  Harper's  Ferry. 
All  know  that  I  had  intended  to  leave  here  in  the  first  week  of 


Frederick  Douglass. 


My  connection  with  John  Brown — To  and  from  England — Presidential 
contest — Election  of  Abraham  Lincoln. 

WHAT  was  my  connection  with  John  Brown,  and 
what  I  knew  of  his  scheme  for  the  capture  of 
Harper's  Ferry,  I  may  now  proceed  to  state.  From  the 
time  of  my  visit  to  him  in  Springfield,  Mass.,  in  1847, 
our  relations  were  friendly  and  confidential.  I  never 
passed  through  Springfield  without  calling  on  him,  and 
he  never  came  to  Rochester  without  calling  on  me.  He 
often  stopped  over  night  with  me,  when  we  talked  over 
the  feasibility  of  his  plan  for  destroying  the  value  of  slave 
property,  and  the  motive  for  holding  slaves  in  the  border 
States.  That  plan,  as  already  intimated  elsewhere,  was 
to  take  twenty  or  twenty-five  discreet  and  trustworthy 
men  into  the  mountains  of  Virginia  and  Maryland,  and 
station  them  in  squads  of  fiv^e,  about  five  miles  apart,  on 
a  line  of  twenty-five  miles  ;  each  squad  to  co-operate  with 
all,  and  all  with  each.  They  were  to  have  selected  for 
them  secure  and  comfortable  retreats  in  the  fastnesses  of 
the  mountains,  where  they  could  easily  defend  tliemselves 
in  case  of  attack.  They  were  to  subsist  upon  the  country 
roundabout.  They  were  to  be  well  armed,  but  were  to 
avoid  battle  or  violence,  unless  compelled  by  pursuit  or 
in  self-defence.  In  that  case,  they  were  to  make  it  as 
costly  as  possible  to  the  assailing  party,  whether  that 
party  should  be  soldiers  or  citizens.  He  further  proposed 
to  have  a  number  of  stations  from  the  line  of  Pennsyl- 



3vS4  WHAT   HE   KNEW   OF   BROWN's   PLANS. 

vaiiia  to  the  Canada  border,  where  such  slaves  as  he 
might,  through  his  men,  induce  to  run  away,  should  be 
supplied  with  food  and  shelter  and  be  forwarded  from  one 
station  to  another  till  they  should  reach  a  place  of  safety 
either  in  Canada  or  the  Northern  States.  He  proposed 
to  add  to  his  force  in  the  mountains  any  courageous  and 
intelligent  fugitives  who  might  be  willing  to  remain  and 
endure  the  hardships  and  brave  the  dangers  of  this 
mountain  life.  These,  he  thought,  if  properly  selected, 
on  account  of  their  knowledge  of  the  surrounding  country, 
could  be  made  valuable  auxiliaries.  The  work  of  going 
into  the  valley  of  Virginia  and  persuading  the  slaves  to 
flee  to  the  mountains  was  to  be  committed  to  the  most 
courageous  and  judicious  man  connected  with  each  squad. 

Hating  slavery  as  I  did,  and  making  its  abolition  the 
object  of  my  life,  I  was  ready  to  welcome  any  new  mode 
of  attack  upon  the  slave  system  which  gave  any  promise 
of  success.  I  readily  saw  that  this  plan  could  be  made 
very  effective  in  rendering  slave  property  in  Maryland 
and  Virginia  valueless  by  rendering  it  insecure.  Men  do 
not  like  to  buy  runaway  horses,  nor  to  invest  their  money 
in  a  species  of  property  likely  to  take  legs  and  walk  off 
with  itself.  In  the  worse  case,  too,  if  the  plan  should 
fail,  and  John  Brown  should  be  driven  from  the  mount- 
ains, a  new  fact  would  be  developed  by  which  the  nation 
would  be  kept  awake  to  the  existence  of  slavery.  Hence, 
I  assented  to  this,  John  Brown's  scheme  or  plan  for  run- 
ning off  slaves. 

To  set  this  plan  in  operation,  money  and  men,  arms 
and  ammunition,  food  and  clothing,  were  needed ;  and 
these,  from  the  nature  of  the  enterprise,  were  not  easily 
obtained,  and  nothing  was  immediately  done.  Captain 
Brown,  too,  notwithstanding  his  rigid  economy,  was  poor, 
and  was  unable  to  arm  and  equip  men  for  the  dangerous 
life  he  had  mapped  out.     So  the  work  lingered  till  after 

BROWN    AT   author's   HOUSE.  385 

the  Kansas  trouble  was  over,  and  freedom  was  a  fact 
accomplished  in  that  Territory.  This  left  him  with  arms 
and  men,  for  the  men  who  had  been  with  him  in  Kansas 
believed  in  him,  and  would  follow  him  in  any  humane 
though  dangerous  enterprise  he  miglit  undertake. 

After  the  close  of  his  Kansas  work,  Captain  Brown 
came  to  my  house  in  Rochester,  and  said  he  desired  to 
stop  with  me  several  weeks ;  "  but,"  he  added,  "  I  will 
not  stay  unless  you  will  allow  me  to  pay  board."  Know- 
ing that  he  was  no  trifler  and  meant  all  lie  said,  and 
desirous  of  retaining  him  under  my  roof,  I  charged  three 
dollars  a  week.  While  here,  he  spent  most  of  his  time 
in  correspondence.  He  wrote  often  to  George  L.  Stearns 
of  Boston,  Gerritt  Smith  of  Peterboro,  N.  Y.,  and  many 
others,  and  received  many  letters  in  return.  When  he 
was  not  writing  letters,  he  was  writing  and  revising  a 
constitution  which  he  meant  to  put  in  operation  by  the 
men  who  should  go  with  him  in  the  mountains.  He  said 
that,  to  avoid  anarchy  and  confusion,  tliere  should  be  a 
regularl}^- constituted  government,  which  each  man  who 
came  with  him  should  be  sworn  to  honor  and  support.  I 
have  a  copy  of  this  constitution  in  Captain  Brown's  own 
handwriting,  as  prepared  by  himself  at  my  house. 

He  called  his  friends  from  Chatham  (Canada)  to  come 
together,  that  he  might  lay  his  constitution  before  them 
for  their  approval  and  adoption.  His  whole  time  and 
thought  were  given  to  this  subject.  It  was  the  first  thing 
in  the  morning  and  the  last  thing  at  night,  till  I  confess 
it  began  to  be  something  of  a  bore  to  me.  Once  in  a 
while  he  would  say  he  could,  with  a  few  resolute  men, 
capture  Harper's  Ferry,  and  supply  himself  with  arms 
belonging  to  the  government  at  that  place ;  but  he  never 
announced  his  intention  to  do  so.  It  was,  however,  very 
evidently  passing  in  his  mind  as  a  thing  he  might  do.  I 
paid  but  little  attention  to  such  remarks,  though  I  never 


doubted  tliat  he  thought  just  what  he  said.  Soon  after 
his  coming  to  me,  he  asked  me  to  get  for  him  two 
smoothly-planed  boards,  upon  which  he  could  illustrate, 
with  a  pair  of  dividers,  by  a  drawing,  the  plan  of  fortifi- 
cation which  he  meant  to  adopt  in  the  mountains. 

These  forts  were  to  be  so  arranged  as  to  connect  one 
with  the  other,  by  secret  passages,  so  that  if  one  was 
carried  another  could  easily  be  fallen  back  upon,  and  be 
the  means  of  dealing  death  to  the  enemy  at  the  very 
moment  when  he  might  think  himself  victorious.  I  was 
less  interested  in  these  drawings  than  my  children  were, 
but  they  showed  that  the  old  man  had  an  eye  to  the 
means  as  well  as  to  the  end,  and  was  giving  his  best 
thought  to  the  work  he  was  about  to  take  in  hand. 

It  was  his  intention  to  begin  this  work  in  '58  instead 
of  '59.  Why  he  did  not  will  appear  from  the  following 

While  in  Kansas,  he  made  the  acquaintance  of  one 
Colonel  Forbes,  an  Englishman,  who  had  figured  some- 
what in  revolutionary  movements  in  Europe,  and,  as  it 
turned  out,  had  become  an  adventurer — a  soldier  of  for- 
tune in  this  country.  This  Forbes  professed  to  be  an 
expert  in  military  matters,  and  easily  fastened  upon  John 
Brown,  and,  becoming  master  of  his  scheme  of  liberation, 
professed  great  interest  in  it,  and  offered  his  services  to 
him  in  the  preparation  of  his  men  for  the  work  before 
them.  After  remaining  with  Brown  a  short  time,  he 
came  to  me  in  Rochester,  with  a  letter  from  him,  asking 
me  to  receive  and  assist  him.  I  was  not  favorably 
impressed  with  Colonel  Forbes  at  first,  but  I  "  conquered 
my  prejudice,"  took  him  to  a  hotel  and  paid  his  board 
while  he  remained.  Just  before  leaving,  he  spoke  of  his 
family  in  Europe  as  in  destitute  circumstances,  and  of  his 
desire  to  send  them  some  money.  I  gave  him  a  little — I 
forget  how  much — and  through  Miss  Assing,  a  German 


lady,  deeply  interested  in  the  John  Brown  scheme,  he 
was  introduced  to  several  of  my  German  friends  in  New 
York.  But  he  soon  wore  them  out  by  his  endless  beg- 
ging ;  and  when  he  could  make  no  more  money  by  pro- 
fessing to  advance  the  John  Brown  project  he  threatened 
to  expose  it,  and  all  connected  with  it.  I  think  I  was  the 
first  to  be  informed  of  his  tactics,  and  I  promptly  com- 
municated them  to  Captain  Brown.  Through  my  friend 
Miss  Assing,  I  found  that  Forbes  had  told  of  Brown's 
designs  to  Horace  Greeley,  and  to  the  government  officials 
at  Washington,  of  which  I  informed  Captain  Brown,  and 
this  led  to  the  postponement  of  the  enterprise  another 
year.  It  was  hoped  that  by  this  delay  the  story  of  Forbes 
would  be  discredited,  and  this  calculation  was  correct, 
for  nobody  believed  the  scoundrel,  though  in  this  he  told 
the  truth. 

While  at  my  house,  John  Brown  made  the  acquaintance 
of  a  colored  man  who  called  himself  by  different  names — 
sometimes  "  Emperor,"  at  other  times,  "  Shields  Green." 
He  was  a  fugitive  slave,  who  had  made  his  escape  from 
Charleston,  South  Carolina ;  a  State  from  which  a  slave 
found  it  no  easy  matter  to  run  away.  But  Shields  Green 
was  not  one  to  shrink  from  hardships  or  dangers.  He 
was  a  man  of  few  words,  and  his  speech  was  singularly 
broken ;  but  his  courage  and  self-respect  made  him  quite 
a  dignified  character.  John  Brown  saw  at  once  what 
''stuff"  Green  "was  made  of,"  and  confided  to  him  his 
plans  and  purposes.  Green  easily  believed  in  Brown, 
and  promised  to  go  with  him  whenever  he  should  be 
ready  to  move.  About  three  weeks  before  the  raid  on 
Harper's  Ferry,  John  Brown  wrote  to  me,  informing  me 
that  a  beginning  in  his  work  would  soon  be  made,  and 
that  before  going  forward  he  wanted  to  see  me,  and 
appointed  an  old  stone-quarry  near  Chambersburg,  Penn., 
as  our  place  of  meeting.     Mr.  Kagi,  his  secretary,  would 

388  JOHN    BROWN    A    FISHERMAN. 

be  there,  and  they  wislied  me  to  bring  any  money  I  could 
command,  and  Shields  Green  along  with  me.  In  the 
same  letter,  he  said  that  his  "  mining  tools  "  and  stores 
were  then  at  Chambersburg,  and  that  he  would  be  there 
to  remove  them.  I  obeyed  the  old  man's  summons. 
Taking  Shields,  we  passed  thit)ugh  New  York  city,  where 
we  called  upon  Rev.  James  Glocester  and  his  wife,  and 
told  them  where  and  for  what  we  were  going,  and  that 
our  old  friend  needed  money.  Mrs.  Glocester  gave  me 
ten  dollars,  and  asked  me  to  hand  the  same  to  John 
Brown,  with  her  best  wishes. 

When  I  reached  Chambersburg,  a  good  deal  of  surprise 
was  expressed  (for  I  was  instantly  recognized)  that  I 
should  come  there  unannounced,  and  I  was  pressed  to 
make  a  speech  to  them,  with  which  invitation  I  readily 
complied.  Meanwhile,  I  called  upon  Mr.  Henry  Watson, 
a  simple-minded  and  warm-hearted  man,  to  whom  Capt. 
Brown  had  imparted  the  secret  of  my  visit,  to  show  me 
the  road  to  the  appointed  rendezvous.  Watson  was  very 
busy  in  his  barber's  shop,  but  he  dropped  all  and  put  me 
on  the  right  track.  I  approached  the  old  quarry  very 
cautiously,  for  John  Brown  was  generally  well  armed,  and 
regarded  strangers  with  suspicion.  He  was  then  under 
the  ban  of  the  government,  and  heavy  rewards  were  of- 
fered for  his  arrest,  for  offenses  said  to  have  been  com- 
mitted in  Kansas.  He  was  passing  under  the  name  of 
John  Smith.  As  I  came  near,  he  regarded  me  rather 
suspiciously,  but  soon  recognized  me,  and  received  me 
cordially.  He  had  in  his  hand  when  I  met  him  a  fishing- 
tackle,  wdth  which  he  had  apparently  been  fishing  in  a 
stream  hard  by ;  but  I  saw  no  fish,  and  did  not  suppose 
that  he  cared  much  for  his  "  fisherman's  luck."  The 
fishing  was  simply  a  disguise,  and  was  certainly  a  good 
one.  He  looked  every  way  like  a  man  of  the  neighbor- 
hood, and  as  much  at  home  as  any  of  the  farmers  arotmd 


there.  His  liat  was  old  and  storm-beaten,  and  his  cloth- 
ing was  about  the  color  of  the  stone-quarry  itself — his 
then  present  dwelling-place. 

His  face  wore  an  anxious  expression,  and  he  was  much 
worn  by  thought  and  exposure.  I  felt  that  I  was  on  a 
dangerous  mission,  and  was  as  little  desirous  of  discov- 
ery as  himself,  though  no  reward  had  been  offered  for 

We — Mr.  Kagi,  Captain  Brown,  Shields  Green,  and 
myself — sat  down  among  the  rocks  and  talked  over  the 
enterprise  which  was  about  to  be  undertaken.  The  taking 
of  Harper's  Ferry,  of  which  Captain  Brown  had  merely 
hinted  before,  was  now  declared  as  his  settled  purpose, 
and  he  wanted  to  know  what  I  thought  of  it.  I  at  once 
opposed  the  measure  with  all  the  arguments  at  my  com- 
mand. To  me  such  a  measure  would  be  fatal  to  running 
off  slaves  (as  was  the  original  plan),  and  fatal  to  all  en- 
gaged in  doing  so.^  It  would  be  an  attack  upon  the 
federal  government,  and  would  array  the  whole  country 
against  us.  Captain  Brown  did  most  of  the  talking  on 
the  other  side  of  the  question.  He  did  not  at  all  object 
to  rousing  the  nation  ;  it  seemed  to  him  that  something 
startling  was  just  what  the  nation  needed.  He  had  com- 
pletely renounced  his  old  plan,  and  thought  that  the  cap- 
ture of  Harper's  Ferry  would  serve  as  notice  to  the  slaves 
that  their  friends  had  come,  and  as  a  trumpet  to  rally 
them  to  his  standard.  He  described  the  place  as  to  its 
means  of  defense,  and  how  impossible  it  would  be  to  dis- 
lodge him  if  once  in  possession.  Of  course  I  was  no 
match  for  him  in  such  matters,  but  I  told  him,  and  these 
were  my  words,  that  all  his  arguments,  and  all  his 
descriptions  of  the  place,  convinced  me  that  he  was  going 
into  a  perfect  steel-trap,  and  that  once  in  he  would  never 
get  out  alive  ;  that  he  would  be  surrounded  at  once  and 
escape  would  be  impossible.     He  was  not  to  be  shaken  by 


anything  I  could  say,  but  treated  my  views  respectfully, 
replying  that  even  if  surrounded  he  would  find  means  for 
cutting  his  way  out ;  but  that  would  not  be  forced  upon 
him ;  he  should  have  a  number  of  the  best  citizens  of  the 
neighborhood  as  his  prisoners  at  the  start,  and  that  hold- 
ing them  as  hostages  he  should  be  able,  if  worse  came  to 
worse,  to  dictate  terms  of  egress  from  the  town.  I  looked 
at  him  with  some  astonishment,  that  he  could  rest  upon 
a  reed  so  weak  and  broken,  and  told  him  that  Virginia 
would  blow  liim  and  his  hostages  sky-high,  rather  than 
that  he  should  hold  Harper's  Ferry  an  hour.  Our  talk 
was  long  and  earnest ;  we  spent  the  most  of  Saturday  and 
a  part  of  Sunday  in  this  debate — Brown  for  Harper's  Fer- 
ry, and  I  against  it ;  he  for  striking  a  blow  which  should 
instantly  rouse  the  country,  and  I  for  the  policy  of  grad- 
ually and  unaccountably  drawing  off  the  slaves  to  the 
mountains,  as  at  first  suggested  and  proposed  by  him. 
When  I  found  that  he  had  fully  made  up  his  mind  and 
could  not  be  dissuaded,  I  turned  to  Shields  Green  and  told 
him  he  heard  what  Captain  Brown  had  said ;  his  old  plan 
was  changed,  and  that  I  should  return  home,  and  if  he 
wished  to  go  with  me  he  could  do  so.  Captain  Brown 
urged  us  both  to  go  with  him,  but  I  could  not  do  so,  and 
could  but  feel  that  he  was  about  to  rivet  the  fetters  more 
firmly  than  ever  on  the  limbs  of  the  enslaved.  In  parting 
he  put  his  arms  around  me  in  a  manner  more  than  friend- 
ly, and  said :  "  Come  with  me,  Douglass  ;  I  will  defend 
you  with  my  life.  I  want  you  for  a  special  purpose. 
When  I  strike,  the  bees  will  begin  to  swarm,  and  I  shall 
want  you  to  help  hive  them."  But  my  discretion  or  my 
cowardice  made  me  proof  against  the  dear  old  man's 
eloquence  —  perhaps  it  was  something  of  both  which  de- 
termined my  course.  AVhen  about  to  leave  I  asked  Green 
what  he  had  decided  to  do,  and  was  surprised  by  his 
coolly  saying,  in  his  broken  way,  "- 1  b'leve  I'll  go  wid  de 


ole  man."  Here  we  separated ;  they  to  go  to  Harper's 
Ferry,  I  to  Rochester.  There  has  been  ^some  difference  of 
opinion  as  to  the  propriety  of  my  course  in  thus  leaving  my 
friend.  Some  have  thought  that  I  ought  to  have  gone 
with  him  ;  but  I  have  no  reproaches  for  myself  at  this 
point,  and  since  I  have  been  assailed  only  by  colored  men 
who  kept  even  farther  from  this  brave  and  heroic  man 
than  I  did,  I  shall  not  trouble  myself  much  about  their 
criticisms.  They  compliment  me  in  assuming  that  I 
should  perform  greater  deeds  than  themselves. 

Such  then  was  my  connection  with  John  Brown,  and  it 
may  be  asked,  if  this  is  all,  why  I  should  have  objected  to 
being  sent  to  Virginia  to  be  tried  for  the  offense  charged. 
The  explanation  is  not  difficult.  I  knew,  if  my  enemies 
could  not  prove  me  guilty  of  the  offense  of  being  with 
John  Brown,they  could  prove  that  I  was  Frederick  Doug- 
lass ;  they  could  prove  that  I  was  in  correspondence  and 
conspiracy  with  Brown  against  slavery  ;  they  could  prove 
that  I  brought  Shields  Green,  one  of  the  bravest  of  his 
soldiers,  all  the  way  from  Rochester  to  him  at  Chambers- 
burg  ;  they  could  prove  that  I  brought  money  to  aid  him, 
and  in  what  was  then  the  state  of  the  public  mind  I  could 
not  hope  to  make  a  jury  of  Virginia  believe  I  did  not  go 
the  whole  length  he  went,  or  that  I  was  not  one  of  his 
supporters ;  and  I  knew  that  all  Virginia,  were  I  once  in 
her  clutches,  would  say  "  Let  him  be  hanged.''  Before  I 
had  left  Canada  for  England,  Jeremiah  Anderson,  one  of 
Brown's  men,  who  was  present  and  took  part  in  the  raid, 
but  escaped  by  the  mountains,  joined  me,  and  he  told  me 
that  he  and  Shields  Green  were  sent  out  on  special  duty 
as  soon  as  the  capture  of  the  arsenal,  etc.,  was  effected. 
Their  business  was  to  bring  in  the  slaves  from  the  sur- 
rounding country,  and  hence  they  were  on  the  outside 
when  Brown  was  surrounded.  I  said  to  him,  "  Why  then 
did  not  Shields  come  with  you  ? "     "  Well,"  he  said,  "  I 


told  him  to  come ;  that  we  could  do  nothing  more,  but  he 
simply  said  he  must  go  down  to  de  ole  man."  Anderson 
further  told  me  that  Captain  Brown  was  careful  to  keep 
his  plans  from  his  men,  and  that  there  was  much  opposi- 
tion among  them  when  they  found  what  were  the  precise 
movements  determined  upon ;  but  they  were  an  oath- 
bound  company,  and  like  good  soldiers  were  agreed  to 
follow  their  captain  wlierever  he  might  lead. 

On  the  12th  of  November,  1859,  I  took  passage  from 
Quebec  on  board  the  steamer  Scotia,  Captain  Thompson, 
of  the  Allan  line.  My  going  to  England  was  not  at  first 
suggested  by  my  connection  with  John  Brown,  but  the 
fact  that  I  was  now  in  danger  of  arrest  on  the  ground  of 
complicity  with  him  made  what  I  had  intended  a  pleasure 
a  necessity,  for  though  in  Canada,  and  under  British  law, 
it  was  not  impossible  that  I  might  be  kidnapped  and 
taken  to  Virginia.  England  had  given  me  shelter  and 
protection  when  the  slave-hounds  were  on  my  track  four- 
teen years  before,  and  her  gates  were  still  open  to  me  now 
that  I  was  pursued  in  the  name  of  Virginia  justice.  I 
could  but  feel  that  I  was  going  into  exile,  perhaps  for 
life.  Slavery  seemed  to  be  at  the  very  top  of  its  power ; 
the  national  government,  with  all  its  powers  and  appli- 
ances, was  in  its  hands,  and  it  bade  fair  to  wield  them  for 
many  years  to  come.  Nobody  could  then  see  that  in  the 
short  space  of  four  years  this  power  would  be  broken  and 
the  slave  system  destroyed.  So  I  started  on  my  voyage 
with  feelings  far  from  cheerful.  No  one  who  has  not 
himself  been  compelled  to  leave  his  home  and  country 
and  go  into  permanent  banishment  can  well  imagine  the 
state  of  mind  and  heart  which  such  a  condition  brings. 
The  voyage  out  was  by  the  north  passage,  and  at  this 
season,  as  usual,  it  was  cold,  dark,  and  stormy.  Before 
quitting  the  coast  of  Labrador  we  had  four  degrees  below 
zero.     Although  I  had  crossed  the  Atlantic  twice  before, 


I  had  not  experienced  sucli  unfriendly  weather  as  during 
the  most  of  this  voyage.  Our  great  jship  was  dashed 
about  upon  the  surface  of  the  sea  as  though  she  had  been 
the  smallest  "  dug-out."  It  seemed  to  tax  all  the  seaman- 
ship of  our  captain  to  keep  her  in  manageable  condition ; 
but  after  battling  with  the  waves  on  an  angry  ocean  dur- 
ing fourteen  long  days  I  gratefully  found  myself  upon  the. 
soil  of  Great  Britain,  beyond  the  reach  of  Buchanan's 
power  and  Virginia's  prisons.  Upon  reaching  Liverpool 
I  learned  that  England  was  nearly  as  much  alive  to  what 
had  happened  at  Harper's  Ferry  as  the  United  States,  and 
I  was  immediately  called  upon  in  different  parts  of 
the  country  to  speak  on  the  subject  of  slavery,  and  espe- 
cially to  give  some  account  of  the  men  who  had  thus  flung 
away  their  lives  in  a  desperate  attempt  to  free  the  slaves. 
My  own  relation  to  the  affair  was  a  subject  of  much  inter- 
est, as  was  the  fact  of  my  presence  there  being  in  some 
sense  to  elude  the  demands  of  Governor  Wise,  who,  hav- 
ing learned  that  I  was  not  in  Michigan,  but  was  on  a 
British  steamer  bound  for  England,  publicly  declared  that 
"  could  he  overtake  that  vessel  he  would  take  me  from  her 
deck  at  any  cost." 

While  in  England,  and  wishing  to  visit  France,  I  wrote 
to  Mr.  George  M.  Dallas,  the  American  minister  at  the 
British  court,  to  obtain  a  passport.  The  attempt  upon 
the  life  of  Napoleon  III  about  that  time,  and  the  suspi- 
cion that  the  conspiracy  against  him  had  been  hatched  in 
England,  made  the  French  government  very  strict  in  the 
enforcement  of  its  passport  system.  I  might  possibly 
have  been  permitted  to  visit  that  country  without  a  cer- 
tificate of  my  citizenship,  but  wishing  to  leave  nothing  to 
chance,  I  applied  to  the  only  competent  authority ;  but, 
true  to  the  traditions  of  the  Democratic  party,  true  to  the 
slaveholding  policy  of  his  country,  true  to  the  decision  of 
the   United   States   Supreme  Court,  and   true,  perhaps, 


to  the  petty  meanness  of  his  own  nature,  Mr.  George  M. 
Dallas,  the  Democratic  American  minister,  refused  to 
grant  me  a  passport,  on  the  ground  that  I  was  not  a  citi- 
zen of  the  United  States.  I  did  not  beg  or  remonstrate 
with  this  dignitary  further,  but  simply  addressed  a  note 
to  the  French  minister  in  London  asking  for  a  permit  to 
visit  France,  and  that  paper  came  without  delay.  I  mention 
this  not  to  belittle  the  civilization  of  my  native  country, 
but  as  a  part  of  the  story  of  my  life.  I  could  have  borne 
this  denial  with  more  serenity  could  I  have  foreseen  what 
has  since  happened,  but  under  the  circumstances  it  was  a 
galling  disappointment. 

I  had  at  this  time  been  about  six  months  out  of  the 
United  States.  My  time  had  been  chiefly  occupied  in 
speaking  on  slavery  and  other  subjects  in  different  parts 
of  England  and  Scotland,  meeting  and  enjoying  the  while 
the  society  of  many  of  the  kind  friends  whose  acquaint- 
ance I  had  made  during  my  visit  to  those  countries  four- 
teen years  before.  Much  of  the  excitement  caused  by  the 
Harper's  Ferry  insurrection  had  subsided,  both  at  home 
and  abroad,  and  I  should  have  now  gratified  a  long- 
cherished  desire  to  visit  France,  and  availed  myself  for 
that  purpose  of  the  permit  so  promptly  and  civilly  given 
by  the  French  minister,  had  not  news  reached  me  from 
home  of  the  death  of  my  beloved  daughter  Annie, 
the  light  and  life  of  my  house.  Deeply  distressed  by  this 
bereavement,  and  acting  upon  the  impulse  of  the  moment, 
regardless  of  the  peril,  I  at  once  resolved  to  return  home, 
and  took  the  first  outgoing  steamer  for  Portland,  Maine. 
After  a  rough  passage  of  seventeen  days  I  reached  home 
by  way  of  Canada,  and  remained  in  my  house  nearly 
a  month  before  the  knowledge  got  abroad  that  I  was 
again  in  this  country.  Great  changes  had  now  taken 
place  in  the  public  mind  touching  the  John  Brown  raid. 
Virginia  had  satisfied  her  thirst  for  blood.     She  had  exe- 


cuted  all  the  raiders  who  had  fallen  into  her  hands.  She 
had  not  given  Captain  Brown  the  benefit  of  a  reasonable 
doubt,  but  hurried  him  to  the  scaffold  in  panic-stricken 
haste.  She  had  made  herself  ridiculous  by  her  friglit 
and  despicable  by  her  fury.  Emerson's  prediction  that 
Brown's  gallows  would  become  like  the  cross  was  already 
being  fulfilled.  The  old  hero,  in  the  trial  hour,  had  be- 
haved so  grandly  that  men  regarded  him  not  as  a  mur- 
derer but  as  a  martyr.  All  over  the  North  men  were 
singing  the  John  Brown  song.  His  body  was  in  the  dust, 
but  his  soul  was  marching  on.  His  defeat  was  already 
assuming  the  form  and  pressure  of  victory,  and  his  death 
was  giving  new,  life  and  power  to  the  principles  of  justice 
and  liberty.  He  had  spoken  great  words  in  the  face  of 
death  and  the  champions  of  slavery.  He  had  quailed  be- 
fore neither.  What  he  had  lost  by  the  sword  he  had 
more  than  gained  by  the  truth.  Had  he  wavered,  had  he 
retreated  or  apologized,  the  case  had  been  different.  He 
did  not  even  ask  that  the  cup  of  death  might  pass  from 
him.  To  his  own  soul  he  was  right,  and  neither  "  princi- 
palities nor  powers,  life  nor  death,  things  present  nor 
things  to  come,"  could  shake  his  dauntless  spirit  or  move 
him  from  his  ground.  He  may  not  have  stooped  on  his 
way  to  the  gallows  to  kiss  a  little  colored  child,  as  it  is 
reported  he  did,  but  the  act  would  have  been  in  keeping 
with  the  tender  heart,  as  well  as  with  the  heroic  spirit  of 
the  man.  Those  who  looked  for  confession  heard  only 
the  voice  of  rebuke  and  warning. 

Early  after  the  insurrection  at  Harper's  Ferry  an  inves- 
tigating committee  was  appointed  by  Congress,  and  a 
"  drag  net "  was  spread  all  over  the  country  in  the  hope 
of  inculpating  many  distinguished  persons.  They  had 
imprisoned  Thaddeus  Hyatt,  who  denied  their  right  to  in- 
terrogate him,  and  had  called  many  witnesses  before 
them,  as  if  the  judicial  power  of  the  nation  had  been  con- 


fided  to  their  committee  and  not  to  the  Supreme  Court  of 
the  United  States.  But  Captain  Brown  implicated  no- 
body. Upon  his  own  head  he  invited  all  the  bolts 
of  slaveholding  vengeance.  He  said  that  he,  and  he  alone, 
w^as  responsible  for  all  that  had  happened.  He  had  many 
friends,  but  no  instigators.  In  all  their  efforts  this  com- 
mittee signally  failed,  and  soon  after  my  arrival  home 
they  gave  up  the  search  and  asked  to  be  discharged,  not 
having  half  fulfilled  the  duty  for  which  they  were  ap- 

I  have  never  been  able  to  account  satisfactorilv  for  the 
sudden  abandonment  of  this  investigation  on  any  other 
ground  than  that  the  men  engaged  in  it  expected  soon  to 
be  in  rebellion  themselves,  and  that  not  a  rebellion  for 
liberty,  like  that  of  John  Brown,  but  a  rebellion  for  slav- 
ery, and  that  they  saw  that  by  using  their  senatorial 
power  in  search  of  rebels  they  might  be  whetting  a  knife 
for  their  own  throats.  At  any  rate  the  country  was  soon 
relieved  of  the  congressional  drag-net  and  was  now 
engaged  in  the  heat  and  turmoil  of  a  presidential  canvass 
— a  canvass  which  had  no  parallel,  involving  as  it  did  the 
question  of  peace  or  war,  the  integrity  or  the  dismember- 
ment of  the  Republic,  and,  I  may  add,  the  maintenance  or 
destruction  of  slavery.  In  some  of  the  Southern  States 
the  people  were  already  organizing  and  arming  to  be 
ready  for  an  apprehended  contest,  and  wdth  this  work  on 
their  hands  they  had  no  time  to  spare  to  those  they  had 
wished  to  convict  as  instigators  of  the  raid,  however  de- 
sirous they  might  have  been  to  do  so  under  other  circum- 
stances, for  they  had  parted  with  none  of  their  hate.  As 
showing  their  feeling  toward  me,  I  may  state  that  a  col- 
ored man  appeared  about  this  time  in  Knoxville,  Tenn., 
and  was  beset  by  a  furious  crowd  with  knives  and  bludg- 
eons because  he  was  supposed  to  be  Fred.  Douglass.  But, 
how^ever  perilous  it  would  have  been  for  me  to  have  shown 


myself  in  any  Southern  State,  there  was  no  especial  dan- 
ger for  me  at  the  North. 

Though  disappointed  in  my  tour  on  the  Continent,  and 
called  home  by  One  of  the  saddest  events  that  can  afflict 
the  domestic  circle,  my  presence  here  was  fortunate,  since 
it  enabled  me  to  participate  in  the  most  important  and 
memorable  presidential  canvass  ever  witnessed  in  the 
United  States,  and  to  labor  for  the  election  of  a  man  who 
in  the  order  of  events  was  destined  to  do  a  greater  service 
to  his  country  and  to  mankind  than  any  man  who  had 
gone  before  him  in  the  presidential  office.  It  is  something 
to  couple  one's  name  with  great  occasions,  and  it  was  a 
great  thing  to  me  to  be  permitted  to  bear  some  humble 
part  in  this,  the  greatest  that  had  thus  far  come  to  the 
American  people.  It  was  a  great  thing  to  achieve  Ameri- 
can independence  when  we  numbered  three  millions,  but 
it  was  a  greater  thing  to  save  this  country  from  dismem- 
berment and  ruin  when  it  numbered  thirty  millions.  He 
alone  of  all  our  Presidents  was  to  have  the  opportunity  to 
destroy  slavery,  and  to  lift  into  manhood  millions  of  his 
countrymen  hitherto  held  as  chattels  and  numbered  with 
the  beasts  of  the  field. 

TJie  presidential  canvass  of  1860  was  three-sided,  and 
each  side  had  its  distinctive  doctrine  as  to  the  question  of 
slavery  and  slavery  extension.  We  had  three  candidates 
in  the  field.  Stephen  A.  Douglas  was  the  standard- 
bearer  of  what  may  be  called  the  western  faction  of  the 
old  divided  democratic  party,  and  John  C.  Breckenridge 
was  the  standard-bearer  of  the  southern  or  slaveholding 
faction  of  that  party.  Abraham  Lincoln  represented  the 
then  young,  growing,  and  united  republican  party.  The 
lines  between  these  parties  and  candidates  were  about  as 
distinctly  and  clearly  drawn  as  political  lines  are  capable 
of  being  drawn.  The  name  of  Douglas  stood  for  territo- 
rial sovereignty,  or,  in  other  words,  for  the  right  of  the 


people  of  a  territory  to  admit  or  exclude,  to  establish  or 
abolish,  slavery,  as  to  them  might  seem  best.  The  doc- 
trine of  Breckenridge  was  that  slaveholders  were  entitled 
to  carry  their  slaves  into  any  territory  of  the  United 
States  and  to  hold  them  there,  with  or  without  the  con- 
sent of  the  people  of  the  territory  ;  that  the  Constitution 
of  its  own  force  carried  slavery  and  protected  it  into  any 
territory  open  for  settlement  in  the  United  States.  To 
both  these  parties,  factions,  and  doctrines,  Abraham  Lin- 
coln and  the  republican  party  stood  opposed.  They  held 
that  the  Federal  Government  had  the  right  and  the  power 
to  exclude  slavery  from  the  territories  of  the  United 
States,  and  that  that  right  and  power  ought  to  be  exercised 
to  the  extent  of  confining  slavery  inside  the  slave  States, 
with  a  view  to  its  ultimate  extinction.  The  position  of 
Mr.  Douglas  gave  him  a  splendid  pretext  for  the  display 
of  a  species  of  oratory  of  which  he  was  a  distinguished 
master.  He  alone  of  the  three  candidates  took  the 
stump  as  the  preacher  of  popular  sovereignty,  called  in 
derision  at  the  time  "  Squatter  "  Sovereignty.  This  doc- 
trine, if  not  the  times,  gave  him  a  chance  to  play  fast  and 
loose,  blow  hot  and  cold,  as  occasion  might  require.  In 
the  South  and  among  slaveholders  he  could  say,  "  My 
great  principle  of  popular  sovereignty  does  not  and  was 
not  intended  by  me  to  prevent  the  extension  of  slavery  ;  on 
the  contrary,  it  gives  you  the  right  to  take  your  slaves 
into  the  territories  and  secure  legislation  legalizing 
slavery  ;  it  denies  to  the  Federal  Grovernment  all  right  of 
interference  against  you,  and  hence  is  eminently  favorable 
to  your  interests."  When  among  people  known  to  be 
indifferent  he  could  say,  "  I  do  not  care  whether  slavery 
is  voted  up  or  down  in  the  territory,"  but  when  address- 
ing the  known  opponents  of  the  extension  of  slavery,  he 
could  say  that  the  people  of  the  territories  were  in  no 
danger  of  having  slavery  forced  upon  them,  since  they 


could  keep  it  out  by  adverse  legislation.  Had  he  made 
these  representations  before  railroads,  electric  wires, 
phonography,  and  newspapers  had  become  the  powerful 
auxiliaries  they  have  done,  Mr.  Douglas  might  have 
gained  many  votes,  but  they  were  of  little  avail  now. 
The  South  was  too  sagacious  to  leave  slavery  to  the 
chance  of  defeat  in  a  fair  vote  by  the  people  of  a  terri- 
tory. Of  all  property  none  could  less  afford  to  take  such 
a  risk,  for  no  property  can  require  more  strongly  favor- 
ing conditions  for  its  existence.  Not  only  the  intelli- 
gence of  the  slave,  but  the  instincts  of  humanity,  must  be 
barred  by  positive  law,  hence  Breckenridge  and  his 
friends  erected  the  flinty  walls  of  the  Constitution  and 
the  Supreme  Court  for  the  protection  of  slavery  at  the 
outset.  Against  both  Douglas  and  Breckenridge  Abraham 
Lincoln  proposed  his  grand  historic  doctrine  of  the  power 
and  duty  of  the  National  Government  to  prevent  the 
spread  and  perpetuity  of  slavery.  Into  this  contest  I 
threw  myself,  with  firmer  faith  and  more  ardent  hope 
than  ever  before,  and  what  I  could  do  by  pen  or  voice 
was  done  with  a  will.  The  most  remarkable  and  memor- 
able feature  of  this  canvass  was,  that  it  was  prosecuted 
under  the  portentous  shadow  of  a  threat :  leading  public 
men  of  the  South  had,  with  the  vehemence  of  fiery  pur- 
pose, given  it  out  in  advance  that  in  case  of  their  failure 
to  elect  their  candidate  (Mr.  John  C.  Breckenridge)  they 
would  proceed  to  take  the  slaveholding  States  out  of  the 
Union,  and  that  in  no  event  whatever  would  they  submit 
to  the  rule  of  Abraham  Lincoln.  To  many  of  the  peace- 
loving  friends  of  the  Union,  this  was  a  fearful  announce- 
ment, and  it  doubtless  cost  the  Republican  candidates 
many  votes.  To  many  others,  however,  it  was  deemed  a 
mere  bravado — sound  and  fury  signifying  nothing.  With 
a  third  class  its  effect  was  very  different.  They  were 
tired   of  the   rule-or-ruin   intimidation   adopted    by   the 


South,  and  felt  then,  if  never  before,  that  they  had 
quailed  before  it  too  often  and  too  long.  It  came  as  an 
insult  and  a  challenge  in  one,  and  imperatively  called 
upon  them  for  independence,  self-assertion,  and  resent- 
ment. Had  southern  men  puzzled  their  brains  to  find 
the  most  effective  means  to  array  against  slavery  and 
slaveholding  manners  the  solid  opposition  of  the  North, 
they  could  not  have  hit  upon  any  expedient  better  suited 
to  that  end  than  was  this  threat.  It  was  not  only  unfair, 
but  insolent,  and  more  like  an  address  to  cowardly  slaves 
than  to  independent  freemen ;  it  had  in  it  the  meanness 
of  the  horse-jockey  who,  on  entering  a  race,  proposes,  if 
beaten,  to  run  off  with  the  stakes.  In  all  my  speeches 
made  during  this  canvass,  I  did  not  fail  to  take  advan- 
tage of  this  southern  bluster  and  bullying.   . 

As  I  have  said,  this  southern  threat  lost  many  votes, 
but  it  gained  more  than  would  cover  the  lost.  It  fright- 
ened the  timid,  but  stimulated  the  brave  ;  and  the  result 
was — the  triumphant  election  of  Abraham  Lincoln. 

Then  came  the  question,  what  will  the  South  do  about 
it  ?  Will  she  eat  her  bold  words,  and  submit  to  the  ver- 
dict of  the  people,  or  proceed  to  the  execution  of  the  pro- 
gramme she  had  marked  out  for  herself  prior  to  the 
election  ?  The  inquiry  was  an  anxious  one,  and  the 
blood  of  the  North  stood  still,  waiting  for  the  response. 
It  had  not  to  wait  long,  for  the  trumpet  of  war  was  soon 
sounded,  and  the  tramp  of  armed  men  was  heard  in  that 
region.  During  all  the  winter  of  1860  notes  of  prepara- 
tion for  a  tremendous  conflict  came  to  us  from  that 
quarter  on  every  wind.  Still  the  warning  was  not  taken. 
Few  of  the  North  could  really  believe  that  this  insolent 
display  of  arms  would  end  in  anything  more  substantial 
than  dust  and  smoke. 

The  shameful  and  shocking  course  of  President  Bu- 
chanan and    his   cabinet   towards   this   rising   rebellion 


against  the  government  which  each  and  all  of  them  had 
solemnly  sworn  to  "  support,  defend,  and  maintain " — 
that  the  treasury  was  emptied,  that  the  army  was  scat- 
tered, that  our  ships  of  war  were  sent  out  of  the  way, 
that  our  forts  and  arsenals  in  the  South  were  weakened 
and  crippled, — purposely  left  an  easy  prey  to  the  pros- 
pective insurgents, — that  one  after  another  the  States 
were  allowed  to  secede  ;  that  these  rebel  measures  were 
largely  encouraged  by  the  doctrine  of  Mr.  Buchanan,  that 
he  found  no  power  in  the  Constitution  to  coerce  a  State, 
are  all  matters  of  history,  and  need  only  the  briefest 
mention  here. 

To  arrest  this  tide  of  secession  and  revolution,  which 
was  sweeping  over  the  South,  the  southern  papers,  which 
still  had  some  dread  of  the  consequences  likely  to  ensue 
from  the  course  marked  out  before  the  election,  proposed 
as  a  means  for  promoting  conciliation  and  satisfaction 
that  '^  each  northern  State,  through  her  legislature,  or  in 
convention  assembled,  should  repeal  all  laws  passed  for 
the  injury  of  the  constitutional  rights  of  the  South  (mean- 
ing thereby  all  laws  passed  for  the  protection  of  personal 
liberty)  ;  that  they  should  pass  laws  for  the  easy  and 
prompt  execution  of  the  fugitive-slave  law ;  that  they 
should  pass  other  laws  imposing  penalties  on  all  male- 
factors who  should  hereafter  assist  or  encourage  the  escape 
of  fugitive  slaves  ;  also,  laws  declaring  and  protecting  the 
right  of  slaveholders  to  travel  and  sojourn  in  northern 
States,  accompanied  by  their  slaves  ;  also,  that  they  should 
instruct  their  representatives  and  senators  in  Congress  to 
repeal  the  law  prohibiting  the  sale  of  slaves  in  the  Dis- 
trict of  Columbia,  and  pass  laws  sufficient  for  the  full 
protection  of  slave  property  in  the  Territories  of  the 

It  may  indeed  be  well  regretted  that  there  was  a  class 
of  men  in  the  North  willing  to  patch  up  a  peace  with  this 


rampant  spirit  of  disunion  by  compliance  with  these 
offensive,  scandalous,  and  humiliating  terms,  and  to  do 
so  without  any  guarantee  that  the  South  would  then  be 
pacified ;  rather  with  the  certainty,  learned  by  past  expe- 
rience, that  it  would  by  no  means  promote  this  end.  I 
confess  to  a  feeling  allied  to  satisfaction  at  the  prospect 
of  a  conflict  between  the  North  and  the  South.  Standing 
outside  the  pale  of  American  humanity,  denied  citizen- 
ship, unable  to  call  the  land  of  my  birth  my  country,  and 
adjudged  by  the  supreme  court  of  the  United  States  to 
have  no  rights  which  white  men  were  bound  to  respect, 
and  longing  for  the  end  of  the  bondage  of  my  people,  I 
was  ready  for  any  political  upheaval  which  should  bring 
about  a  change  in  the  existing  condition  of  things. 
Whether  the  war  of  words  would  or  would  not  end  in 
blows  was  for  a  time  a  matter  of  doubt;  and  when  it 
became  certain  that  the  South  was  wholly  in  earnest, 
and  meant  at  all  hazards  to  execute  its  threats  of  disrup- 
tion, a  visible  change  in  the  sentiment  of  the  North  was 

The  reaction  from  the  glorious  assertion  of  freedom 
and  independence  on  the  part  of  the  North  in  the  tri- 
umphant election  of  Abraham  Lincoln,  was  a  painful  and 
humiliating  development  of  its  weakness.  It  seemed  as 
if  all  that  had  been  gained  in  the  canvass  was  about  to 
be  surrendered  to  the  vanquished :  that  the  South,  though 
beaten  at  the  polls,  were  to  be  victorious  and  have  every- 
thing its  own  way  in  the  final  result.  During  all  the 
intervening  months,  from  November  to  the  ensuing 
March,  the  drift  of  Northern  sentiment  was  towards 
compromise.  To  smooth  the  way  for  this,  most  of  the 
Northern  legislatures  repealed  their  personal  liberty  bills, 
as  they  were  supposed  to  embarrass  the  surrender  of 
fugitive  slaves  to  their  claimants.  The  feeling  every- 
where seemed  to  be  that  something  must  be  done  to  con- 

Portrait  of  William  Lloyd  Garrison. 


vince  the  South  that  the  election  of  Mr.  Lincohi  meant 
no  harm  to  slavery  or  the  slave  power,  and  that  the 
North  was  sound  on  the  question  of  the  right  of  the  mas- 
ter to  hold  and  hunt  his  slave  as  long  as  he  pleased,  and 
that  even  the  right  to  hold  slaves  in  the  Territories 
should  be  submitted  to  the  supreme  court,  which  would 
probably  decide  in  favor  of  the  most  extravagant  demands 
of  the  slave  States.  The  Northern  press  took  on  a  more 
conservative  tone  towards  the  slavery  propagandists,  and 
a  corresponding  tone  of  bitterness  towards  anti-slavery 
men  and  measures.  It  came  to  be  a  no  uncommon  thing 
to  hear  men  denouncing  South  Carolina  and  Massachu- 
setts in  the  same  breath,  and  in  the  same  measure  of 
disapproval.  The  old  pro-slavery  spirit  which,  in  1835, 
mobbed  anti-slavery  prayer-meetings,  and  dragged  William 
Lloyd  Garrison  through  the  streets  of  Boston  with  a 
halter  about  his  neck,  was  revived.  From  Massachusetts 
to  Missouri,  anti-slavery  meetings  were  ruthlessly  assailed 
and  broken  up.  With  others,  I  was  roughly  handled  by 
a  mob  in  Tremont  Temple,  Boston,  headed  by  one  of  the 
wealthiest  men  of  that  city.  The  talk  was  that  the  blood 
of  some  abolitionist  must  be  shed  to  appease  the  wrath  of 
the  offended  South,  and  to  restore  peaceful  relations 
between  the  two  sections  of  the  country.  A  howling 
mob  followed  Wendell  Phillips  for  three  days  whenever 
he  appeared  on  the  pavements  of  his  native  city,  because 
of  his  ability  and  prominence  in  the  propagation  of  anti- 
slavery  opinions. 

While  this  humiliating  reaction  was  going  on  at  the 
North,  various  devices  were  suggested  and  pressed  at 
Washington,  to  bring  about  peace  and  reconciliation. 
Committees  were  appointed  to  listen  to  southern  griev- 
ances, and,  if  possible,  devise  means  of  redress  for  such 
as  might  be  alleged.  Some  of  these  peace  propositions 
would  have  been  shocking  to  the  last  degree  to  the  moral 

406  THE   SOUTH    WAS   MAD. 

sense  of  the  North,  had  not  fear  for  the  safety  of  the 
Union  overwhelmed  all  moral  conviction.  Such  men  as 
William  H.  Seward,  Charles  Francis  Adams,  Henry  B. 
Anthony,  Joshua  R.  Giddings,  and  others — men  whose 
courage  had  been  equal  to  all  other  emergencies — bent 
before  this  southern  storm,  and  were  ready  to  purchase 
peace  at  any  price.  Those  who  had  stimulated  the  cour- 
age of  the  North  before  the  election,  and  had  shouted 
"  Who's  afraid  ? "  were  now  shaking  in  their  shoes  with 
apprehension  and  dread.  One  was  for  passing  laws  in 
the  northern  States  for  the  better  protection  of  slave- 
hunters,  and  for  the  greater  efficiency  of  the  fugitive- 
slave  bill.  Another  was  for  enacting  laws  to  punish  the 
invasion  of  the  slave  States,  and  others  were  for  so  alter- 
ing the  Constitution  of  the  United  States  that  the  federal 
government  should  never  abolish  slavery  while  any  one. 
State  should  object  to  such  a  measure.*  Everything  that 
could  be  demanded  by  insatiable  pride  and  selfishness  on 
the  part  of  the  slave-holding  South,  or  could  be  surren- 
dered by  abject  fear  and  servility  on  the  part  of  the 
North,  had  able  and  eloquent  advocates. 

Happily  for  the  cause  of  human  freedom,  and  for  the 
final  unity  of  the  American  nation,  the  South  was  mad, 
and  would  listen  to  no  concessions.  They  would  neither 
accept  the  terms  offered,  nor  offer  others  to  be  accepted. 
They  had  made  up  their  minds  that  under  a  given  con- 
tingency they  would  secede  from  the  Union,  and  thus 
dismember  the  Republic.  That  contingency  had  hap- 
pened, and  they  should  execute  their  threat.  Mr.  Ireson 
of  Georgia,  expressed  the  ruling  sentiment  of  his  section 
when  he  told  the  northern  peacemakers  that  if  the  people 
of  the  South  were  given  a  blank  sheet  of  paper  upon 
which  to  write  their  own  terms  on  which  they  would 
remain  in  the  Union,  they  would  not  stay.     They  had 

*  See  History  of  American  Couflict,  Vol.  II,  by  Horace  Greeley. 


come  to  hate  everything  which  had  the  prefix  "Free" — 
free  soil,  free  States,  free  territories,  free  schools,  free 
speech,  and  freedom  generally,  and  they  would  have  no 
more  such  prefixes.  This  hauglity  and  unreasonable  and 
unreasoning  attitude  of  the  imperious  South  saved  the 
slave  and  saved  the  nation.  Had  the  South  accepted  our 
concessions  and  remained  in  the  Union,  the  slave  power 
would  in  all  probability  have  continued  to  rule ;  the  North 
would  have  become  utterly  demoralized;  the  hands  on 
the  dial-plate  of  American  civilization  would  have  been 
reversed,  and  the  slave  would  have  been  dragging  his 
hateful  chains  to-day  wherever  the  American  flag  floats 
to  the  breeze.  Those  who  may  wish  to  see  to  what 
depths  of  humility  and  self-abasement  a  noble  people  can 
be  brought  under  the  sentiment  of  fear,  will  find  no  chap- 
ter of  history  more  instructive  than  that  which  treats  of 
the  events  in  official  circles  in  Washington  during  the 
space  between  the  months  of  November,  1859,  and  March, 



Recruiting  of  the  o4th  and  55tli  Colored  Regiments — Visit  to  Presi- 
dent Lincoln  and  Secretary  Stanton — Promised  a  Commission  as 
Adjutant-General  to  General  Thomas — Disappointment. 

THE  cowardly  and  disgraceful  reaction  from  a  cour- 
ageous and  manly  assertion  of  right  principles,  as 
described  in  the  foregoing  pages,  continued  surprisingly 
long  after  secession  and  war  were  commenced.  The 
patience  and  forbearance  of  the  loyal  people  of  the  North 
were  amazing.  Speaking  of  this  feature  of  the  situation 
in  Corinthian  Hall,  Rochester,  at  the  time,  I  said : 

"We  (the  people  of  the  North)  are  a  charitable  people,  and,  in  the 
excess  of  this  feeling,  we  were  disposed  to  put  the  very  best  construc- 
tion upon  the  strange  behavior  of  our  southern  brethren.  We  hoped 
that  all  would  yet  go  well.  We  thought  that  South  Carolina  might 
secede.  It  was  entirely  like  her  to  do  so.  She  had  talked  extrav- 
agantly about  going  out  of  the  Union,  and  it  was  natural  that  she 
should  do  something  extravagant  and  startling,  if  for  nothing  else,  to 
make  a  show  of  consistency.  Georgia,  too,  we  thought  might  possibly 
secede.  But,  strangely  enough,  we  thought  and  felt  quite  sure  that 
these  twin  rebellious  States  would  stand  alone  and  unsupported  in 
their  infamy  and  their  impotency,  that  they  would  soon  tire  of  their 
isolation,  repent  of  their  folly,  and  come  back  to  their  places  in  the 
Union.  Traitors  withdrew  from  the  Cabinet,  from  the  House  of  Rep- 
resentatives, and  from  the  Senate,  and  hastened  to  their  several  States 
to  'fire  the  Southern  heart,'  and  to  fan  the  hot  flames  of  treason  at 
home.  Still  we  doubted  if  anything  serious  would  come  of  it.  We 
treated  it  as  a  bubble  on  the  wave — a  nine-days'  wonder.  Calm  and 
thoughtful  men  ourselves,  we  relied  upon  the  sober  second  thought 
of  the  southern  people.  Even  the  capture  of  a  fort,  a  shot  at  one  of 
our  ships — an  insult  to  the  national  flag — caused  only  a  momentary 
feeling  of  indignation  and  resentment.  We  could  not  but  believe 
that  there  existed  at  the  South  a  latent  and  powerful  Union  sentiment 


author's   speech   in   ROCHESTER.  409 

which  would  assert  itself  at  last.  Though  loyal  soldiers  had  been 
fired  upon  in  the  streets  of  Baltimore,  though  loyal  blood  had  stained 
the  pavements  of  that  beautiful  city,  and  the  national  government 
was  warned  to  send  no  troops  through  Baltimore  to  the  defense  of  the 
National  Capital,  we  could  not  be  made  to  believe  that  the  border 
States  would  plunge  madly  into  the  bloody  vortex  of  rebellion. 

"  But  this  confidence,  patience,  and  forbearance  could  not  last  for- 
ever. These  blissful  illusions  of  hope  were,  in  a  measure,  dispelled 
when  the  batteries  of  Charleston  harbor  were  opened  upon  the  starv- 
ing garrison  at  Fort  Sumter.  For  the  moment  the  northern  lamb 
was  transformed  into  a  lion,  and  his  roar  was  terrible.  But  he  only 
showed  his  teeth,  and  clearly  had  no  wish  to  use  them.  We  preferred 
to  fight  with  dollars,  and  not  daggers.  *  The  fewer  battles  the  better,* 
was  the  hopeful  motto  at  Washington.  *  Peace  in  sixty  days '  was 
held  out  by  the  astute  Secretary  of  State.  In  fact,  there  was  at  the 
North  no  disposition  to  fight,  no  spirit  of  hate,  no  comprehension  of 
the  stupendous  character  and  dimensions  of  the  rebellion,  and  no 
proper  appreciation  of  its  inherent  wickedness.  Treason  had  shot  its 
poisonous  roots  deeper  and  had  spread  its  death-dealing  branches  fur- 
ther than  any  northern  calculation  had  covered.  Thus,  while  rebels 
were  waging  a  barbarous  war,  marshaling  savage  Indians  to  join  them 
in  the  slaughter,  while  rifled  cannon-balls  were  battering  down  the 
walls  of  our  forts,  and  the  iron-clad  hand  of  monarchical  power  was 
being  invokqd  to  assist  in  the  destruction  of  our  government  and  the 
dismemberment  of  our  country,  while  a  tremendous^  rebel  ram  was 
sinking  our  fleet  and  threatening  the  cities  of  our  coast,  we  were  still 
dreaming  of  peace.  This  infatuation,  this  blindness  to  the  signifi- 
cance of  passing  events,  can  only  be  accounted  for  by  the  rapid  pas- 
sage of  these  events  and  by  the  fact  of  the  habitual  leniency  and 
good  will  cherished  by  the  North  towards  the  South.  Our  very  lack 
of  preparation  for  the  conflict  disposes  us  to  look  for  some  other  than 
the  way  of  blood  out  of  the  difiiculty.  Treason  had  largely  infected 
both  army  and  navy.  Floyd  had  scattered  our  arms,  Cobb  had 
depleted  our  treasury,  and  Buchanan  had  poisoned  the  political 
thought  of  the  times  by  his  doctrines  of  anti-coercion.  It  was  in 
such  a  condition  of  things  as  this  that  Abraham  Lincoln  (compelled 
from  fear  of  assassination  to  enter  the  capital  in  disguise)  was  inau- 
gurated and  issued  his  proclamation  for  the  '  repossession  of  the  forts, 
places,  and  property  which  had  been  seized  from  the  Union,'  and  his 
call  upon  the  miltia  of  the  several  States  to  the  number  of  75,000 
men — a  paper  which  showed  how  little  even  he  comprehended  the 
work  then  before  the  loyal  nation.  It  was  perhaps  better  for  the 
country  and  for  mankind  that  the  good  man  could  not  know  the  end 
from  the  beginning.     Had  he  foreseen  the  thousands  who  must  sink 


into  bloody  graves,  the  mountains  of  deb.t  to  be  laid  on  the  breast  of 
the  nation,  the  terrible  hardships  and  sufferings  involved  in  the  con- 
test, and  his  own  death  by  an  assassin's  hand,  he  too  might  have 
adopted  the  weak  sentiment  of  those  who  said  '  Erring  sisters,  depart 
in  peace.'" 

From  the  first,  I,  for  one,  saw  in  this  war  the  end  of 
slavery ;  and  truth  requires  me  to  say  that  my  interest 
in  the  success  of  the  North  was  largely  due  to  this  belief. 
True  it  is  that  this  faith  was  many  times  shaken  by  pass- 
ing events,  but  never  destroyed.  When  Secretary  Sew- 
ard instructed  our  ministers  to  say  to  the  governments  to 
which  they  were  accredited  that,  "  terminate  however  it 
might,  the  status  of  no  class  of  the  people  of  the  United 
States  would  be  changed  by  the  rebellion — that  the  slaves 
would  be  slaves  still,  and  that  the  masters  would  be  mas- 
ters still " — when  General  McClellan  and  General  Butler 
warned  the  slaves  in  advance  that,  "  if  any  attempt  was 
made  by  them  to  gain  their  freedom  it  would  be  sup- 
pressed with  an  iron  hand  " — when  the  government  per- 
sistently refused  to  employ  colored  troops — when  the 
emancipation  proclamation  of  General  John  C.  Fremont, 
in  Missouri,  was  withdrawn — when  slaves  were  being 
returned  from  our  lines  to  their  masters — when  Union 
soldiers  were  stationed  about  the  farm-houses  of  Virginia 
to  guard  and  protect  the  master  in  holding  his  slaves — 
when  Union  soldiers  made  themselves  more  active  in 
kicking  colored  men  out  of  their  camps  than  in  shooting 
rebels — when  even  Mr.  Lincoln  could  tell  the  poor  negro 
that  "he  was  the  cause  of  the  war,"  I  still  believed,  and 
spoke  as  I  believed,  all  over  the  North,  that  the  mission 
of  the  war  was  the  liberation  of  the  slave,  as  well  as  the 
salvation  of  the  Union ;  and  hence  from  the  first  I 
reproached  the  North  that  they  fought  the  rebels  with 
only  one  hand,  when  they  might  strike  effectually  with 
two — that  they  fought  with  their  soft  white  hand,  wliile 
they  kept  their  black  iron  hand  chained  and  helpless 

NO    ABOLITION    WAR.  411 

behind  them — that  they  fought  the  effect,  while  they  pro- 
tected the  cause,  and  that  the  Union  cause  would  never 
prosper  till  the  war  assumed  an  anti-slavery  attitude,  and 
the  negro  was  enlisted  on  the  loyal  side.  In  every  way 
possible — in  the  columns  of  my  paper  and  on  the  plat- 
form, by  letters  to  friends,  at  home  and  abroad,  I  did  all 
_that  I  could  to  impress  this  conviction  upon  this  country. 
But  nations  seldom  listen  to  advice  from  individuals, 
however  reasonable.  They  are  taught  less  by  theories 
than  by  facts  and  events.  There  was  much  that  could 
be  said  against  making  the  war  an  abolition  war — much 
that  seemed  wise  and  patriotic.  "  Make  the  war  an  abo- 
lition war,"  we  were  told,  "  and  you  drive  the  border 
States  into  the  rebellion,  and  thus  add  power  to  the 
enemy  and  increase  the  number  you  will  have  to  meet  on 
the  battle-field.  You  will  exasperate  and  intensify  south- 
ern feeling,  making  it  more  desperate,  and  put  far  away 
the  day  of  peace  between  the  two  sections."  "  Employ 
the  arm  of  the  negro,  and  the  loyal  men  of  the  North  will 
throw  down  their  arms  and  go  home."  "  This  is  the 
white  man's  country  and  the  white  man's  war."  "  It 
would  inflict  an  intolerable  wound  upon  the  pride  and  spirit 
of  white  soldiers  of  the  Union  to  see  the  negro  in  the 
United  States  uniform.  Besides,  if  you  make  the  negro  a 
soldier,  you  cannot  depend  on  his  courage ;  a  crack  of  his 
old  master's  whip  would  send  him  scampering  in  terror 
from  the  field."  And  so  it  was  that  custom,  pride, 
prejudice,  and  the  old-time  respect  for  southern  feeling, 
held  back  the  government  from  an  anti-slavery  policy  and 
from  arming  tlie  negro.  Meanwhile  the  rebellion  availed 
itself  of  the  negro  most  effectively.  He  was  not  only  the 
stomach  of  the  rebellion,  by  supplying  its  commissary  de- 
partment, but  he  built  its  forts,  and  dug  its  intrench- 
ments,  and  performed  other  duties  of  the  camp  which  left 
the  rebel  soldier  more  free  to  fight  the  loyal  army  than 


lie  could  otherwise  have  been.  It  was  the  cotton  and 
corn  of  the  negro  that  made  the  rebellion  sack  stand  on 
end  and  caused  a  continuance  of  the  war.  "Destroy 
tliese,"  was  the  burden  of  all  my  utterances  during  this 
part  of  the  struggle, ''  and  you  cripple  and  destroy  the  re- 
bellion." It  is  surprising  how  long  and  bitterly  the  gov- 
ernment resisted  and  rejected  this  view  of  the  situation. 
The  abolition  heart  of  the  North  ached  over  the  delay, 
and  uttered  its  bitter  complaints,  but  the  administration 
remained  blind  and  dumb.  Bull  Run,  Ball's  Bluff,  Big 
Bethel,  Fredericksburg,  and  the  Peninsula  disasters  were 
the  only  teachers  whose  authority  was  of  sufficient  import- 
ance to  excite  the  attention  or  respect  of  our  rulers,  and 
they  were  even  slow  in  being  taught  by  these.  An  import- 
ant point  was  gained,  however,  when  General  B.  F.  Butler, 
at  Fortress  Monroe,  announced  the  policy  of  treating 
the  slaves  as  "  contrabands,"  to  be  made  useful  to  the 
Union  cause,  and  was  sustained  therein  at  Washington, 
and  sentiments  of  a  similar  nature  were  expressed  on  the 
floor  of  Congress  by  Hon.  A.  G.  Riddle  of  Ohio.  A  grand 
accession  was  made  to  this  view  of  the  case  when  Hon. 
Simon  Cameron,  then  secretary  of  war,  gave  it  his  earnest 
support,  and  General  David  Hunter  put  the  measure  into 
practical  operation  in  South  Carolina.  General  Phelps 
from  Vermont,  in  command  at  Carroll  ton.  La.,  also  ad- 
vocated the  same  plan,  though  under  discouragements 
which  cost  him  his  command.  And  many  and  grievous 
disasters  on  flood  and  field  were  needed  to  educate  the 
loyal  nation  and  President  Lincoln  up  to  the  realization 
of  the  necessity,  not  to  say  justice,  of  this  position,  and 
many  devices,  intermediate  steps,  and  make-shifts  were 
suggested  to  smooth  the  way  to  the  ultimate  policy  of 
freeing  the  slave,  and  arming  the  freedmen. 

When  at  last  the  truth  began  to  dawn  upon  the  admin- 
istration that  the  negro  might  be  made  useful  to  loyalty, 

THEY   GOT   LIGHT.  413 

as  well  as  to  treason,  to  the  Union  as  well  as  to  the  Con- 
federacy, it  then  considered  in  what  way  it  could  employ 
him,  which  would  in  the  least  shock  and  offend  the  popu- 
lar prejudice  against  him.  He  was  already  in  the  army 
as  a  waiter,  and  in  that  capacity  there  was  no  objection  to 
him ;  and  so  it  was  thought  that  as  this  was  the  case,  the 
feeling  which  tolerated  him  as  a  waiter  would  not 
seriously  object  if  he  should  be  admitted  to  the  army  as 
a  laborer,  especially  as  no  one  under  a  southern  sun  cared 
to  have  a  monopoly  of  digging  and  toiling  in  trenches. 
This  was  the  first  step  in  employing  negroes  in  the 
United  States  service.  The  second  step  was  to  give  them 
a  peculiar  costume  which  should  distinguish  them  from 
soldiers,  and  yet  mark  them  as  a  part  of  the  loyal  force. 
As  the  eyes  of  the  loyal  administration  still  further 
opened,  it  was  proposed  to  give  these  laborers  something 
better  than  spades  and  shovels  with  which  to  defend 
themselves  in  cases  of  emergency.  Still  later  it  was  pro- 
posed to'  make  them  soldiers,  but  soldiers  without  the 
blue  uniform.  Soldiers  with  a  mark  upon  them  to  show 
that  they  were  inferior  to  other  soldiers ;  soldiers  with  a 
badge  of  degradation  upon  them.  However,  once  in  the 
army  as  a  laborer,  once  there  with  a  red  shirt  on  his  back 
and  a  pistol  in  his  belt,  the  negro  was  not  long  in  appear- 
ing on  the  field  as  a  soldier.  But  still,  he  was  not  to  be  a 
soldier  in  the  sense,  and  on  an  equal  footing,  with  white 
soldiers.  It  was  given  out  that  he  was  not  to  be  employed  in 
the  open  field  with  white  troops,  under  the  inspiration  of 
doing  battle  and  winning  victories  for  the  Union  cause, 
and  in  the  face  and  teeth  of  his  old  masters,  but  that  he 
should  be  made  to  garrison  forts  in  yellow-fever  and 
otherwise  unhealthy  localities  of  the  South,  to  save  the 
health  of  white  soldiers ;  and,  in  order  to  keep  up  the  dis- 
tinction further,  the  black  soldiers  were  to  have  only  half 
the  wages   of  the   white   soldiers,   and  were  to  be  com- 

414  APPEAL   TO    COLOUED    MEN. 

mandcd  entirely  by  white  commissioned  officers.  While 
of  course  I  was  deeply  pained  and  saddened  by  the  esti- 
mate thus  j)ut  upon  my  race,  and  grieved  at  the  slowness 
of  heart  which  marked  the  conduct  of  the  loyal  govern- 
ment, I  was  not  discouraged,  and  urged  every  man  who 
could  to  enlist ;  to  get  an  eagle  on  his  button,  a  musket 
on  his  shoulder,  and  the  star- spangled  banner  over  his 
head.  Hence,  as  soon  as  Governor  Andrew  of  Massa- 
chusetts received  permission  from  Mr.  Lincoln  to  raise 
two  colored  regiments,  the  54tli  and  55th,  I  made  the 
following  address  to  the  colored  citizens  of  the  North 
through  my  paper,  then  being  published  in  Rochester, 
which  was  copied  in  the  leading  journals  : 

"MEN   OF   COLOR,    TO   ARMS! 

"  When  first  the  rebel  cannon  shattered  the  walls  of  Sumter  and 
drove  away  its  starving  garrison,  I  predicted  that  the  war  then  and 
there  inaugurated  would  not  be  fought  out  entirely  by  white  men. 
Every  mouth's  experience  during  these  dreary  years  has  confirmed 
that  opinion.  A  war  undertaken  and  brazenly  carried  on  for  the 
perpetual  enslavement  of  colored  men,  calls  logically  and  loudly  for 
colored  men  to  help  suppress  it.  Only  a  moderate  share  of  sagacity 
was  needed  to  see  that  the  arm  of  the  slave  was  the  best  defense 
against  the  arm  of  the  slaveholder.  Hence,  with  every  reverse  to  the 
national  arms,  with  every  exulting  shout  of  victory  raised  by  the 
slaveholding  rebels,  I  have  implored  the  imperiled  nation  to  unchain 
against  her  foes  her  powerful  black  hand.  Slowly  and  reluctantly 
that  appeal  is  beginning  to  be  heeded.  Stop  not  now  to  complain 
that  it  was  not  heeded  sooner.  It  may  or  it  may  not  have  been  best 
that  it  should  not.  This  is  not  the  time  to  discuss  that  question. 
Leave  it  to  the  future.  When  the  war  is  over,  the  country  is  saved, 
peace  is  established,  and  the  black  man's  rights  are  secured,  as  they 
will  be,  history  with  an  impartial  hand  will  dispose  of  that  and  sundry 
other  questions.  Action  !  action  !  not  criticism,  is  the  plain  duty  of 
this  hour.  Words  are  now  useful  only  as  they  stimulate  to  blows. 
The  office  of  speech  now  is  only  to  point  out  when,  where,  and  how 
to  strike  to  the  best  advantage.  There  is  no  time  to  delay.  The 
tide  is  at  its  flood  that  leads  on  to  fortune.  From  East  to  West,  from 
North  to  South,  the  sky  is  written  all  over,  'Now  or  never.'  Lib- 
erty won  by  white  men  would  lose  half  its  luster.     *  Who  would  be 


free  themselves  must  strike  the  blow. '  'Better  even  die  free,  than  to  live 
slaves. '  This  is  the  sentiment  of  every  brave  colored  man  amongst 
■us.  There  are  weak  and  cowardly  men  in  all  nations.  W^e  have 
them  amongst  us.  They  tell  you  this  is  the  'white  man's  war';  that 
you  '  will  be  no  better  off  after  than  before  the  war ' ;  that  the  getting 
of  you  into  the  army  is  to  '  sacrifice  you  on  the  first  opportunity. ' 
Believe  them  not ;  cowards  themselves,  they  do  not  wish  to  have  their 
cowardice  shamed  by  your  brave  example.  Leave  them  to  their 
timidity,  or  to  whatever  motive  may  hold  them  back.  I  have  not 
thought  lightly  of  the  words  I  am  now  addressing  you.  The  counsel  I 
give  comes  of  close  observation  of  the  great  struggle  now  in  pro- 
gress, and  of  the  deep  conviction  that  this  is  your  hour  and  mine.  In 
good  earnest,  then,  and  after  the  best  deliberation,  I  now,  for  the  first 
time  during  this  war,  feel  at  liberty  to  call  and  counsel  you  to  arms. 
By  every  consideration  which  binds  you  to  your  enslaved  fellow-coun- 
trymen, and  the  peace  and  welfare  of  your  country ;  by  every  aspira- 
tion which  you  cherish  for  the  freedom  and  equality  of  yourselves 
and  your  children ;  by  all  the  ties  of  blood  and  identity  which  make 
us  one  with  the  brave  black  men  now  fighting  our  battles  in  Louisi- 
ana and  in  South  Carolina,  I  urge  you  to  fly  to  arms,  and  smite  with 
death  the  power  that  would  bury  the  government  and  your  liberty  in 
the  same  hopeless  grave.  I  wish  I  could  tell  you  that  the  State  of 
New  York,  calls  you  to  this  high  honor.  For  the  moment  her  con- 
stituted authorities  are  silent  on  the  subject.  They  will  speak  by 
and  by,  and  doubtless  on  the  right  side ;  but  we  are  not  compelled  to 
wait  for  her.  We  can  get  at  the  throat  of  treason  and  slavery  through 
the  State  of  Massachusetts.  She  was  first  in  the  War  of  Independ- 
ence ;  first  to  break  the  chains  of  her  slaves ;  first  to  make  the  black 
man  equal  before  the  law ;  first  to  admit  colored  children  to  her  com- 
mon schools,  and  she  was  first  to  answer  with  her  blood  the  alarm-cry 
of  the  nation,  when  its  capital  was  menaced  by  rebels.  You  know 
her  patriotic  governor,  and  you  know  Charles  Sumner.  I  need  not 
add  more. 

Massachusetts  now  welcomes  you  to  arms  as  soldiers.  She  has  but 
a  small  colored  population  from  which  to  recruit.  She  has  full  leave 
of  the  general  government  to  send  one  regiment  to  the  war,  and  she 
has  undertaken  to  do  it.  Go  quickly  and  help  fill  up  the  first 
colored  regiment  from  the  North.  I  am  authorized  to  assure  you  that 
you  will  receive  the  same  wages,  the  same  rations,  the  same  equip- 
ments, the  same  protection,  the  same  treatment,  and  the  same  bounty, 
secured  to  white  soldiers.  You  will  be  led  by  able  and  skillful  officers, 
men  who  will  take  especial  pride  in  your  efficiency  and  success. 
They  will  be  quick  to  accord  to  you  all  the  honor  you  shall  merit  by 
your  valor,   and  see  that  your  rights  and  feelings  are  respected  by 


other  soldiers.  I  have  assured  myself  on  these  points,  and  can  speak 
with  authority.  More  than  twenty  years  of  unswerving  devotion  to 
our  common  cause  may  give  me  some  humble  claim  to  be  trusted  at 
this  momentous  crisis.  I  will  not  argue.  To  do  so  implies  hesitation 
and  doubt,  and  you  do  not  hesitate.  You  do  not  doubt.  The  day 
dawns ;  the  morning  star  is  bright  upon  the  horizon  !  The  iron  gate 
of  our  prison  stands  half  open.  One  gallant  rush  from  the  North 
will  fling  it  wide  open,  while  four  millions  of  our  brothers  and  sisters 
shall  march  out  into  liberty.  The  chance  is  now  given  you  to  end  in 
a  day  the  bondage  of  centuries,  and  to  rise  in  one  bound  from  social 
degradation  to  the  place  of  common  equality  with  all  other  varieties 
of  men.  Remember  Denmark  Vessey  of  Charleston ;  remember  Na- 
thaniel Turner  of  South  Hampton;  remember  Shields  Green  and 
Copeland,  who  followed  noble  John  Brown,  and  fell  as  glorious  mar- 
tyrs for  the  cause  of  the  slave.  Remember  that  in  a  contest  with 
oppression,  the  Almighty  has  no  attribute  which  can  take  sides  with 
oppressors.  The  case  is  before  you.  This  is  our  golden  opportunity. 
Let  us  accept  it,  and  forever  wipe  out  the  dark  reproaches  unspar- 
ingly hurled  against  us  by  our  enemies.  Let  us  win  for  ourselves  the 
gratitude  of  our  country,  and  the  best  blessings  of  our  posterity 
through  all  time.  The  nucleus  of  this  first  regiment  is  now  in  camp 
at  Readville,  a  short  distance  from  Boston.  I  will  undertake  to  for- 
ward to  Boston  all  persons  adjudged  fit  to  be  mustered  into  the  regi- 
ment, who  shall  apply  to  me  at  any  time  within  the  next  two  weeks. 
"Rochester,  March  2,  1863." 

Immediately  after  authority  had  been  given  by  Presi- 
dent Lincoln  to  Governor  John  A.  Andrew  of  Massachu- 
setts, to  raise  and  equip  two  regiments  of  colored  men 
for  the  war,  I  received  a  letter  from  George  L.  Stearns  of 
Boston,  a  noble  worker  for  freedom  in  Kansas,  and  a 
warm  friend  of  John  Brown,  earnestly  entreating  me 
to  assist  in  raising  the  required  number  of  men.  It  was 
presumed  that  by  my  labors  in  the  anti-slavery  cause,  I 
had  gained  some  influence  with  the  colored  men  of  the 
country,  and  that  they  would  listen  to  me  in  this  emergency; 
which  supposition,  I  am  happy  to  say,  was  supported 
by  the  results.  There  were  fewer  colored  people  in 
Massachusetts  then  than  now,  and  it  was  necessary,  in 
order  to  make  up  the  full  quota  of  these  regiments,  to 
recruit  for  them  in  other  Northern  States.     The  nominal 


conditions  upon  which  colored  men  were  asked  to  enlist 
were  not  satisfactory  to  me  or  them;  but  assurances 
from  Governor  Andrew  that  they  would  in  the  end  be 
made  just  and  equal,  together  with  my  faith  in  the  logic 
of  events,  and  my  conviction  that  the  wise  thing  to  do 
was  for  the  colored  man  to  get  into  the  army  by  any  door 
open  to  him,  no  matter  how  narrow,  made  me  accept  with 
alacrity  the  work  to  which  I  was  invited.  The  raising  of 
these  two  regiments — the  54th  and  55th — and  their  splen- 
did behavior  in  South  and  North  Carolina,  was  the  begin- 
ning of  great  things  for  the  colored  people  of  the  whole 
country ;  and  not  the  least  satisfaction  I  now  have  in 
contemplating  my  humble  part  in  raising  them,  is  the 
fact  that  my  two  sons,  Charles  and  Lewis,  were  the  first 
two  in  the  State  of  New  York  to  enlist  in  them.  The 
54th  was  not  long  in  the  field  before  it  proved  itself  gal- 
lant and  strong,  worthy  to  rank  with  the  most  courageous 
of  its  white  companions  in  arms.  Its  assault  upon  Fort 
Wagner,  in  which  it  was  so  fearfully  cut  to  pieces,  and 
lost  nearly  half  its  officers,  including  its  beloved  and 
trusted  commander.  Col.  Shaw,  at  once  gave  it  a  name 
and  a  fame  throughout  the  country.  In  that  terrible 
battle,  under  the  wing  of  night,  more  cavils  in  respect  of 
the  quality  of  negro  manhood  were  set  at  rest  than  could 
have  been  during  a  century  of  ordinary  life  and  observa- 
tion. After  that  assault  we  heard  no  more  of  sending 
negroes  to  garrison  forts  and  arsenals,  to  fight  miasma, 
yellow-fever,  and  small-pox.  Talk  of  his  ability  to  meet 
the  foe  in  the  open  field,  and  of  his  equal  fitness  with  the 
white  man  to  stop  a  bullet,  then  began  to  prevail.  From 
this  time  (and  the  fact  ought  to  be  remembered)  the 
colored  troops  were  called  upon  to  occupy  positions  which 
required  the  courage,  steadiness,  and  endurance  of  vet- 
erans, and  even  their  enemies  were  obliged  to  admit  that 
they  proved  themselves  worthy  the  confidence  reposed  in 


tlicm.  After  the  54th  and  55th  Massacliusetts  colorerl 
]-cgiinents  were  placed  in  the  field,  and  one  of  them  had 
distinguished  itself  with  so  much  credit  in  the  hour  of 
trial,  the  desire  to  send  more  such  troops  to  the  front 
hecame  pretty  general.  Pennsylvania  proposed  to  raise 
ten  regiments.  I  was  again  called  by  my  friend  Mr. 
Stearns  to  assist  in  raising  these  regiments,  and  I  set 
about  the  work  with  full  purpose  of  heart,  using  every 
argument  of  which  I  was  capable  to  persuade  every  col- 
ored man  able  to  bear  arms  to  rally  around  the  flag,  and 
help  to  save  the  country  and  save  the  race.  It  was  dur- 
ing this  time  that  the  attitude  of  the  government  at 
Washington  caused  me  deep  sadness  and  discouragement, 
and  forced  me  in  a  measure  to  suspend  my  efforts  in  that 
direction.  I  had  assured  colored  men  that  once  in  the 
Union  army  they  would  be  put  upon  an  equal  footing 
with  other  soldiers ;  that  they  would  be  paid,  promoted, 
and  exchanged  as  prisoners  of  war,  Jeff  Davis's  threat 
that  they  would  be  treated  as  felons  to  the  contrary  not- 
withstanding. But  thus  far,  the  government  had  not 
kept  its  promise,  or  the  promise  made  for  it.  The  follow- 
ing letter  which  I  find  published  in  my  paper  of  the  same 
date  will  show  the  course  I  felt  it  my  duty  to  take  under 

the  circumstances : 

**  Rochester,  August  1st,  1863. 
"Major  George  L.  Stearns: 

"My  Dear  Sir, — Having  declined  to  attend  the  meeting  to  promote 
enlistments,  appointed  for  me  at  Pittsburgh,  in  present  circumstances, 
I  owe  you  a  word  of  explanation.  I  have  hitherto  deemed  it  a  duty, 
as  it  certainly  has  been  a  pleasure,  to  cooperate  with  you  in  the  work 
of  raising  colored  troops  in  the  free  States  to  fight  the  battles  of  the 
Republic  against  slaveholding  rebels  and  traitors.  Upon  the  first  call 
you  gave  me  to  this  work  I  responded  with  alacrit}^  I  saw,  or 
thought  I  saw,  a  ray  of  light,  brightening  the  future  of  my  whole 
race,  as  well  as  that  of  our  war-troubled  country,  in  arousing  colored 
men  to  fight  for  the  nation's  life.  I  continue  to  believe  in  the  black 
man's  arm,  and  still  have  some  hope  in  the  integrity  of  our  rulers. 
Nevertheless,  I  must  for  the  present  leave  to  others  the  work  of  per- 


suading  colored  men  to  join  the  Union  army.  I  owe  it  to  my  long- 
abused  people,  and  especially  to  those  already  in  the  army,  to  expose 
their  wrongs  and  plead  their  cause.  I  cannot  do  that  in  connection 
with  recruiting.  When  I  plead  for  recruits  I  want  to  do  it  with  all 
my  heart,  without  qualification.  I  cannot  do  that  now.  The  impres- 
sion settles  upon  me  that  colored  men  have  much  over-rated  the 
enlightenment,  justice,  and  generosity  of  our  rulers  at  Washington. 
In  my  humble  way  I  have  contributed  somewhat  to  that  false  estimate. 
You  know  that  when  the  idea  of  raising  colored  troops  was  first  sug-  *• 
gested,  the  special  duty  to  be  assigned  them  was  the  garrisoning  of 
forts  and  arsenals  in  certain  warm,  unhealthy,  and  miasmatic  localities 
in  the  South.  They  were  thought  to  be  better  adapted  to  that  service 
than  white  troops.  White  troops  trained  to  war,  brave  and  daring, 
were  to  take  fortifications,  and  the  blacks  were  to  hold  them  from 
falling  again  into  the  hands  of  the  rebels.  Three  advantages  were  to 
arise  out  of  this  wise  division  of  labor:  1st,  The  spirit  and  pride  of 
white  troops  was  not  to  waste  itself  in  dull,  monotonous  inactivity  in 
fort  life ;  their  arms  were  to  be  kept  bright  by  constant  use.  2d,  The 
health  of  white  troops  was  to  be  preserved.  3d,  Black  troops  were  to 
have  the  advantage  of  sound  military  training  and  to  be  otherwise 
useful,  at  the  same  time  that  they  should  be  tolerably  secure  from 
capture  h^  the  rebels,  who  early  avowed  their  determination  to  enslave 
and  slaughter  them  in  defiance  of  the  laws  of  war.  Two  out  of  the 
three  advantages  were  to  accrue  to  the  white  troops.  Thus  far,  how- 
ever, I  believe  that  no  such  duty  as  holding  fortifications  has  been 
committed  to  colored  troops.  They  have  done  far  other  and  more 
important  work  than  holding  fortifications.  I  have  no  special  com- 
plaint to  make  at  this  point,  and  I  simply  mention  it  to  strengthen 
the  statement  that,  from  the  beginning  of  this  business,  it  was  the 
confident  belief  among  both  the  colored  and  white  friends  of  colored 
enlistments  that  President  Lincoln,  as  commander-in-chief  of  the  army 
and  navy,  would  certainly  see  to  it  that  his  colored  troops  should  be 
so  handled  and  disposed  of  as  to  be  but  little  exposed  to  capture  by 
the  rebels,  and  that,  if  so  exposed,  as  they  have  repeatedly  been  from 
the  first,  the  President  possessed  both  the  disposition  and  the  means 
for  compelling  the  rebels  to  respect  the  rights  of  such  as  might  fall 
into  their  hands.  The  piratical  proclamation  of  Jefferson  Davis, 
announcing  slavery  and  assassination  to  colored  prisoners,  was  before 
the  country  and  the  world.  But  men  had  faith  in  Mr.  Lincoln  and 
his  advisers.  He  was  silent,  to  be  sure,  but  charity  suggested  that 
being  a  man  of  action  rather  than  words  he  only  waited  for  a  case  in 
which  he  should  be  required  to  act.  This  faith  in  the  man  enabled 
us  to  speak  with  warmth  and  effect  in  urging  enlistments  among 
colored  men.     That  faith,  my  dear  sir,  is  now  nearly  gone.     Various 


occasions  have  arisen  during  the  last  six  months  for  the  exercise  of 
his  power  in  behalf  of  the  colored  men  in  his  service.  But  no  word 
comes  to  us  from  the  war  department,  sternly  assuring  the  rebel  chief 
that  inquisition  shall  yet  be  made  for  innocent  blood.  No  word  of 
retaliation  when  a  black  man  is  slain  by  a  rebel  in  cold  blood.  No 
word  was  said  when  free  men  from  Massachusetts  were  caught  and 
sold  into  slavery  in  Texas.  No  word  is  said  when  brave  black  men 
who,  according  to  the  testimony  of  both  friend  and  foe,  fought  like 
heroes  to  plant  the  star-spangled  banner  on  the  blazing  parapets  of 
Fort  Wagner,  and  in  doing  so  were  captured,  some  mutilated  and 
killed,  and  others  sold  into  slavery.  The  same  crushing  silence 
reigns  over  this  scandalous  outrage  as  over  that  of  the  slaughtered 
teamsters  at  Murf reesboro ;  the  same  as  over  that  at  Milliken's  Bend 
and  Vicksburg.  I  am  free  to  say,  my  dear  sir,  that  the  case  looks  as 
if  the  confiding  colored  soldiers  had  been  betrayed  into  bloody  hands 
by  the  very  government  in  whose  defense  they  were  heroically  fight- 
ing. I  know  what  you  will  say  to  this ;  you  will  say  '  Wait  a  little 
longer,  and,  after  all,  the  best  way  to  have  justice  done  to  your  people 
is  to  get  them  into  the  army  as  fast  as  j^ou  can.'  You  may  be  right  in 
this ;  my  argument  has  been  the  same ;  but  have  we  not  already  waited, 
and  have  we  not  already  shown  the  highest  qualities  of  soldiers,  and 
on  this  account  deserve  the  protection  of  the  government  for  which 
we  are  fighting?  Can  any  case  stronger  than  that  before  Charleston 
ever  arise?  If  the  President  is  ever  to  demand  justice  and  humanity 
for  black  soldiers,  is  not  this  the  time  for  him  to  do  it?  How  many 
54ths  must  be  cut  to  pieces,  its  mutilated  prisoners  killed,  and  its 
living  sold  into  slavery,  to  be  tortured  to  death  by  inches,  before 
Mr.  Lincoln  shall  say,  '  Hold,  enough! ' 

"You  know  the  54th.  To  you,  more  than  to  any  one  man,  belongs 
the  credit  of  raising  that  regiment.  Think  of  its  noble  and  brave 
officers  literally  hacked  to  pieces,  while  many  of  its  rank  and  file  have 
been  sold  into  slavery  worse  than  death ;  and  pardon  me  if  I  hesitate 
about  assisting  in  raising  a  fourth  regiment  until  the  President  shall 
give  the  same  protection  to  them  as  to  white  soldiers. 

With  warm  and  sincere  regards, 

Frederick  Douglas." 

"  Since  writing  the  foregoing  letter,  which  we  have  now  put  upon 
record,  we  have  received  assurances  from  Major  Stearns  that  the  gov- 
ernment of  the  United  States  is  already  taking  measures  which  will 
secure  the  captured  colored  soldiers  at  Charleston  and  elsewhere  the 
same  protection  against  slavery  and  cruelty  extended  to  white  soldiers. 
What  ought  to  have  been  done  at  the  beginning  comes  late,  but  it 
comes.     The  poor  colored  soldiers  have  purchased  interference  dearly. 


It  really  seems  that  nothing  of  justice,  liberty,  or  humanity  can  come 
to  us  except  through  tears  and  blood." 


My  efforts  to  secure  just  and  fair  treatment  for  the 
colored  soldiers  did  not  stop  at  letters  and  speeches.  At 
the  suggestion  of  my  friend,  Major  Stearns,  to  whom  the 
foregoing  letter  was  addressed,  I  was  induced  to  go  to 
Washington  and  lay  the  complaints  of  my  people  before 
President  Lincoln  and  the  Secretary  of  War;  and  to  urge 
upon  them  such  action  as  should  secure  to  the  colored 
troops  then  fighting  for  the  country  a  reasonable  degree 
of  fair  play.  I  need  not  say  that  at  the  time  I  undertook 
this  mission  it  required  much  more  nerve  than  a  similar 
one  would  require  now.  The  distance  then  between  the 
black  man  and  the  white  American  citizen  was  immeas- 
urable. I  was  an  ex-slave,  identified  with  a  despised  race, 
and  yet  I  was  to  meet  the  most  exalted  person  in  this 
great  republic.  It  was  altogether  an  unwelcome  duty, 
and  one  from  which  I  would  gladly  have  been  excused.  I 
could  not  know  what  kind  of  a  reception  would  be 
accorded  me.  I  might  be  told  to  go  home  and  mind  my 
business,  and  leave  such  questions  as  I  had  come  to  dis- 
cuss to  be  managed  by  the  men  wisely  chosen  by  the 
American  people  to  deal  with  them.  Or  I  might  be  re- 
fused an  interview  altogether.  Nevertheless,  I  felt  bound 
to  go,  and  my  acquaintance  with  Senators  Charles  Sum- 
ner, Henry  Wilson,  Samuel  Pomeroy,  Secretary  Salmon 
P.  Chase,  Secretary  William  H.  Seward,  and  Assistant 
Secretary  of  War  Charles  A.  Dana  encouraged  me  to  hope 
at  least  for  a  civil  reception.  My  confidence  was  fully 
justified  in  the  result.  I  shall  never  forget  my  first 
interview  with  this  great  man.  I  was  accompanied 
to  the  executive  mansion  and  introduced  to  President 
Lincoln  by  Senator  Pomeroy.      The  room  in  which  he  re- 


ceived  visitors  was  the  one  now  used  by  the  President's 
secretaries.  I  entered  it  with  a  moderate  estimate  of  my 
own  consequence,  and  yet  there  I  was  to  talk  with,  and 
even  to  advise,  the  head  man  of  a  great  nation.  Happily 
for  me,  there  was  no  vain  pomp  and  ceremony  about  liim. 
I  was  never  more  quickly  or  more  completely  put  at  ease 
in  the  ])resence  of  a  great  man  than  in  that  of  Abraham 
Lincoln.  He  was  seated,  when  I  entered,  in  a  low  arm- 
chair with  his  feet  extended  on  the  floor,  surrounded  by  a 
large  number  of  documents  and  several  busy  secretaries. 
The  room  bore  the  marks  of  business,  and  the  persons  in 
it,  the  President  included,  appeared  to  be  much  over- 
worked and  tired.  Long  lines  of  care  were  already  deeply 
written  on  Mr.  Lincoln's  brow,  and  his  strong  face,  full  of 
earnestness,  lighted  up  as  soon  as  my  name  was  men- 
tioned. As  I  approached  and  was  introduced  to  him  he 
arose  and  extended  his  hand,  and  bade  me  welcome.  I  at 
once  felt  myself  in  the  presence  of  an  honest  man — one 
whom  I  could  love,  honor,  and  trust  without  reserve  or 
doubt.  Proceeding  to  tell  him  who  I  was  and  what  I  was 
doing,  he  promptly,  but  kindly,  stopped  me,  saying: 
''  I  know  who  you  are,  Mr.  Douglass ;  Mr.  Seward  has  told 
me  all  about  you.  Sit  down.  I  am  glad  to  see  you."  I  then 
told  him  the  object  of  my  visit :  that  I  was  assisting  to 
raise  colored  troops ;  that  several  months  before  I  had  been 
very  successful  in  getting  men  to  enlist,  but  that  now  it 
was  not  easy  to  induce  the  colored  men  to  enter  the  ser- 
vice, because  there  was  a  feeling  among  them  that  the 
government  did  not  deal  fairly  with  them  in  several 
respects.  Mr.  Lincoln  asked  me  to  state  particulars.  I 
replied  that  there  were  three  particulars  which  I  wished 
to  bring  to  his  attention.  First,  that  colored  soldiers 
ought  to  receive  the  same  wages  as  those  paid  to  white  sol- 
diers. Second,  that  colored  soldiers  ought  to  receive  the 
same  protection  when  taken  prisoners,  and  be  exchanged 


as  readily  and  on  the  same  terms  as  any  other  prisoners, 
and  if  Jefferson  Davis  should  shoot  or  hang  colored  sol- 
diers in  cold  blood  the  United  States  government  should  re- 
taliate in  kind  and  degree  without  delay  upon  Confederate 
prisoners  in  its  hands.  Third,  when  colored  soldiers, 
seeking  "  the  bubble  reputation  at  the  cannon's  mouth," 
performed  great  and  uncommon  service  on  the  battle- 
field, they  should  be  rewarded  by  distinction  and  promo- 
tion precisely  as  white  soldiers  are  rewarded  for  like 

Mr.  Lincoln  listened  with  patience  and  silence  to  all  I 
had  to  say.  He  was  serious  and  even  troubled  by  what  I 
had  said,  and  by  what  he  had  evidently  thought  liimself 
before  upon  the  same  points.  He  impressed  me  with  the 
solid  gravity  of  his  character  by  his  silent  listening  not 
less  than  by  his  earnest  reply  to  my  words. 

He  began  by  saying  that  the  employment  of  colored 
troops  at  all  was  a  great  gain  to  the  colored  people ;  that 
the  measure  could  not  have  been  successfully  adopted  at 
the  beginning  of  the  war ;  that  the  wisdom  of  making 
colored  men  soldiers  was  still  doubted  ;  that  their  enlist- 
ment was  a  serious  offense  to  popular  prejudice ;  that 
they  had  larger  motives  for  being  soldiers  than  white 
men ;  that  they  ought  to  be  willing  to  enter  the  service 
upon  any  condition ;  that  the  fact  that  they  were  not 
to  receive  the  same  pay  as  white  soldiers  seemed  a  neces- 
sary concession  to  smooth  the  way  to  their  employment 
at  all  as  soldiers,  but  that  ultimately  they  would  receive 
the  same.  On  the  second  point,  in  respect  to  equal  pro- 
tection, he  said  the  case  was  more  difhcult.  Retaliation 
was  a  terrible  remedy,  and  one  which  it  was  very  difficult 
to  apply ;  one  which,  if  once  begun,  there  was  no  telling 
where  it  would  end ;  that  if  he  could  get  hold  of  the  Con- 
federate soldiers  who  had  been  guilty  of  treating  colored 
soldiers  as  felons  he  could  easily  retaliate,  but  the  thought 


of  lianp^ing  men  for  a  crime  perpetrated  by  others  was  re- 
volting to  his  feelings.  He  thought  that  the  rebels 
themselves  would  stop  such  barbarous  warfare,  and  less 
evil  would  be  done  if  retaliation  were  not  resorted 
to  ;  that  he  had  already  received  information  that  colored 
soldiers  were  being  treated  as  prisoners  of  war.  In  all 
this  I  saw  the  tender  heart  of  the  man  rather  than  the 
stern  warrior  and  commander-in-chief  of  the  American 
army  and  navy,  and,  while  I  could  not  agree  with  him,  I 
could  but  respect  his  humane  spirit. 

On  the  third  point  he  appeared  to  have  less  difficulty, 
though  he  did  not  absolutely  commit  himself.  He  simply 
said  that  he  would  sign  any  commission  to  colored  sol- 
diers whom  his  Secretary  of  War  should  commend  to  him. 
Though  I  was  not  entirely  satisfied  with  his  views,  I  was 
so  well  satisfied  with  the  man  and  with  the  educating  ten- 
dency of  the  conflict  that  I  determined  to  go  on  with  the 

From  the  President  I  went  to  see  Secretary  Stanton. 
The  manner  of  no  two  men  could  be  more  widely  differ- 
ent. I  was  introduced  by  Assistant  Secretary  Dana, 
whom  I  had  known  many  years  before  at  "  Brook  Farm," 
Mass.,  and  afterward  as  managing  editor  of  the  New 
York  Tribune.  Every  line  in  Mr.  Stanton's  face  told  me 
that  my  communication  with  him  must  be  brief,  clear, 
and  to  the  point ;  that  he  might  turn  his  back  upon  me  as 
a  bore  at  any  moment ;  that  politeness  was  not  one  of  his 
weaknesses.  His  first  glance  was  that  of  a  man  who 
says :  "  Well,  what  do  you  want  ?  I  have  no  time  to 
waste  upon  you  or  anybody  else,  and  I  shall  waste  none. 
Speak  quick,  or  I  shall  leave  you.''  The  man  and  the 
place  seemed  alike  busy.  Seeing  I  had  no  time  to  lose,  I 
hastily  went  over  the  ground  I  had  gone  over  to  President 
Lincoln.  As  I  ended  I  was  surprised  by  seeing  a  changed 
man  before  me.  Contempt  and  suspicion  and  brusque- 
iiess  had  all  disappeared  from  his  face  and  manner,  and 


for  a  few  minutes  he  made  the  best  defense  that  I 
had  then  heard  from  anybody  of  the  treatment  of  colored 
soldiers  by  the  government.  I  was  not  satisfied,  yet  I  left 
in  the  full  belief  that  the  true  course  to  the  black  man's 
freedom  and  citizenship  was  over  the  battle-field,  and  that 
my  business  was  to  get  every  black  man  I  could  into  the 
Union  armies.  Both  the  President  and  Secretary  of  War 
assured  me  that  justice  would  ultimately  be  done  my 
race,  and  I  gave  full  faith  and  credit  to  their  promise. 
On  assuring  Mr.  Stanton  of  my  willingness  to  take  a  com- 
mission, he  said  he  would  make  me  assistant  adjutant  to 
General  Thomas,  who  was  then  recruiting  and  organizing 
troops  in  the  Mississippi  valley.  He  asked  me  how  soon 
I  could  be  ready.  I  told  him  in  two  weeks,  and  that  my 
commission  might  be  sent  me  to  Rochester.  For  some 
reason,  however,  my  commission  never  came.  The  gov- 
ernment, I  fear,  was  still  clinging  to  the  idea  that 
positions  of  honor  in  the  service  should  be  occupied 
by  white  men,  and  that  it  would  not  do  to  inaugurate  just 
then  the  policy  of  perfect  equality.  I  wrote  to  the  de- 
partment for  my  commission,  but  was  simply  told  to 
report  to  General  Thomas.  This  was  so  different  from 
what  I  expected  and  from  what  I  had  been  promised  that 
I  wrote  to  Secretary  Stanton  that  I  would  report  to 
General  Thomas  on  receipt  of  my  commission,  but  it  did 
not  come,  and  I  did  not  go  to  the  Mississippi  valley  as  I 
had  fondly  hoped.  I  knew  too  much  of  camp  life  and  the 
value  of  shoulder  straps  in  the  army  to  go  into  the  service 
without  some  visible  mark  of  my  rank.  I  have  no  doubt 
that  Mr.  Stanton  in  the  moment  of  our  meeting  meant  all 
he  said,  but  thinking  the  matter  over  he  felt  that  the  time 
had  not  then  come  for  a  step  so  radical  and  aggressive. 
Meanwhile  my  three  sons  were  in  the  service,  Lewis  and 
Charles,  as  already  named,  in  the  Massachusetts  regi- 
ments, and  Frederick  recruiting  colored  troops  in  the 
Mississippi  valley. 



Proclamation  of  emancipation — Its  reception  in  Boston — Objections 
brought  against  it — Its  effect  on  the  country — Interview  with  Presi- 
dent Lincoln — New  York  riots — Re-election  of  Mr.  Lincoln — His 
inauguration,  and  inaugural — Vice-President  Johnson — Presidential 
reception — The  fall  of  Richmond — Fanuiel  Hall — The  assassination 
— Condolence. 

THE  first  of  January,  1863,  was  a  memorable  day  in 
the  progress  of  American  liberty  and  civilization. 
It  was  the  turning-point  in  the  conflict  between  freedom 
and  slavery.  A  death-blow  was  given  to  the  slavehold- 
ing  rebellion.  Until  then  the  federal  arm  had  been 
more  than  tolerant  to  that  relic  of  barbarism.  It  had 
defended  it  inside  the  slave  States  ;  it  had  countermanded 
the  emancipation  policy  of  John  C.  Fremont  in  Missouri ; 
it  had  returned  slaves  to  their  so-called  owners  ;  and  had 
threatened  that  any  attempt  on  the  part  of  the  slaves  to 
gain  their  freedom  by  insurrection,  or  otherwise,  would 
be  put  down  with  an  iron  hand  ;  it  had  even  refused  to 
allow  the  Hutchinson  family  to  sing  their  anti-slavery  songs 
in  the  camps  of  the  Army  of  the  Potomac ;  it  had  sur- 
rounded the  houses  of  slaveholders  with  bayonets  for 
their  protection  ;  and  through  its  secretary  of  war,  Wil- 
liam H.  Seward,  had  given  notice  to  the  world  that, 
"  however  the  war  for  the  Union  might  terminate,  no 
change  would  be  made  in  the  relation  of  master  and 
slave."  Upon  this  pro-slavery  platform  the  war  against 
the  rebellion  had  been  waged  during  more  than  two 
years.     It  had  not  been  a  war  of  conquest,  but  rather  a 


THE   "NEW   DEPARTURE."  427 

war  of  conciliation.  McClcUan,  in  command  of  the. 
army,  had  been  trying,  apparently,  to  put  down  the  rebel- 
lion without  hurting  the  rebels,  certainly  without  hurting 
slavery,  and  the  government  had  seemed  to  cooperate 
with  him  in  both  respects.  Charles  Sumner,  William 
Lloyd  Garrison,  Wendell  Phillips,  Gerrit  Smith  and  the 
whole  anti-slavery  phalanx  at  the  North,  had  denounced 
this  policy,  and  had  besought  Mr.  Lincoln  to  adopt  an 
opposite  one,  but  in  vain.  Generals  in  the  field,  and 
councils  in  the  Cabinet,  had  persisted  in  advancing  this 
policy  through  defeats  and  disasters,  even  to  the  verge  of 
ruin.  We  fo tight  the  rebellion,  but  not  its  cause.  The 
key  to  the  situation  was  the  four  million  of  slaves;  yet 
the  slave  who  loved  us,  was  hated,  and  the  slaveholder 
who  hated  us,  was  loved.  We  kissed  the  hand  that  smote 
us,  and  spurned  the  hand  that  helped  us.  When  the 
means  of  victory  were  before  us, — within  our  grasp, — 
we  went  in  search  of  the  means  of  defeat.  And  now,  on 
this  day  of  January  1st,  1863,  the  formal  and  solemn 
announcement  was  made  that  thereafter  the  government 
would  be  found  on  the  side  of  emancipation.  This  proc- 
lamation changed  everything.  It  gave  a  new  direction 
to  the  councils  of  the  Cabinet,  and  to  the  conduct  of  the 
national  arms.  I  shall  leave  to  the  statesman,  the  phil- 
osopher, and  historian,  the  more  comprehensive  discussion 
of  this  document,  and  only  tell  how  it  touched  me,  and 
those  in  like  condition  with  me  at  the  time.  I  was  in 
Boston,  and  its  reception  there  may  indicate  the  import- 
ance attached  to  it  elsewhere.  An  immense  assembly 
convened  in  Tremont  Temple  to  await  the  first  flash  of 
the  electric  wires  announcing  the  "  new  departure."  Two 
years  of  war,  prosecuted  in  the  interests  of  slavery,  had 
made  free  speech  possible  in  Boston,  and  we  were  now 
met  together  to  receive  and  celebrate  the  first  utterance 
of  the  long-hoped-for  proclamation,  if  it  came,  and,  if  it 


.did  not  come,  to  speak  our  minds  freely ;  for,  in  view  of 
the  past,  it  was  by  no  means  certain  that  it  would  come. 
The  occasion,  therefore,  was  one  of  both  hope  and  fear. 
Our  ship  was  on  the  open  sea,  tossed  by  a  terrible  storm ; 
wave  after  wave  was  passing  over  us,  and  every  hour 
w^as  fraught  with  increasing  peril.  Whether  we  should 
survive  or  perish  depended  in  large  measure  upon  the 
coming  of  this  proclamation.  At  least  so  we  felt. 
Although  the  conditions  on  which  Mr.  Lincoln  had  prom- 
ised to  withhold  it  had  not  been  complied  with,  yet,  from 
many  considerations,  there  was  room  to  doubt  and  fear. 
Mr.  Lincoln  was  known  to  be  a  man  of  tender  heart,  and 
boundless  patience  :  no  man  could  tell  to  what  length  he 
might  go,  or  might  refrain  from  going,  in  the  direction  of 
peace  and  reconciliation.  Hitherto,  he  had  not  shown 
himself  a  man  of  heroic  measures,  and,  properly  enough, 
this  step  belonged  to  that  class.  It  must  be  the  end  of 
all  compromises  with  slavery — a  declaration  that  there- 
after the  war  was  to  be  conducted  on  a  new  principle, 
with  a  new  aim.  It  would  be  a  full  and  fair  assertion 
that  the  government  would  neither  trifle,  or  be  trifled 
with,  any  longer.  But  would  it  come?  On  the  side  of 
doubt,  it  was  said  that  Mr.  Lincoln's  kindly  nature  might 
cause  him  to  relent  at  the  last  moment ;  that  Mrs.  Lin- 
coln, coming  from  an  old  slaveholding  family,  would 
influence  him  to  delay,  and  give  the  slaveholders  one 
other  chance.*  Every  moment  of  waiting  chilled  our 
hopes,  and  strengthened  our  fears.  A  line  of  messengers 
was  established  between  the  telegraph  office  and  the  plat- 
form of  Tremont  Temple,  and  the  time  was  occupied  with 
brief  speeches  from  Hon.  Thomas  Russell  of  Plymouth, 
Miss  Anna  E.  Dickinson  (a  lady  of  marvelous  eloquence), 
Eev.  Mr.  Grimes,  J.  Sella  Martin,  William  Wells  Brown, 

*I  have  reason  to  know  that  this  supposition  did  Mrs.  Lincohi 
great  injustice. 


and  myself.  But  speaking  or  listening  to  speeches  was 
not  the  thing  for  which  the  people  had  come  together. 
The  time  for  argument  was  passed.  It  was  not  logic, 
but  the  trump  of  jubilee,  which  everybody  wanted  to  hear. 
We  were  waiting  and  listening  as  for  a  bolt  from  the 
sky,  which  should  rend  the  fetters  of  four  millions  of 
slaves ;  we  were  watching,  as  it  were,  by  the  dim  light  of 
the  stars,  for  the  dawn  of  a  new  day ;  we  were  longing 
for  the  answer  to  the  agonizing  prayers  of  centuries. 
Remembering  those  in  bonds  as  bound  with  them,  we 
wanted  to  join  in  the  shout  for  freedom,  and  in  the  anthem 
of  the  redeemed. 

Eight,  nine,  ten  o'clock  came  and  went,  and  still  no 
word.     A  visible  shadow  seemed  falling  on  the  expecting 
throng,  which  the  confident  utterances  of  the  speakers 
sought  in  vain  to  dispel.     At  last,  when  patience  was 
well-nigh  exhausted,  and  suspense  was  becoming  agony,  a 
man  (I  think  it  was  Judge  Russell)  with  hasty  step  ad- 
vanced through  the  crowd,  and  with  a  face  fairly  illumined 
with  the  news  he  bore,  exclaimed  in  tones  that  thrilled 
all  hearts,  "  It  is  coming  ! ''     "  It   is   on   the   wires ! !  " 
The  effect  of  this  announcement  was  startling  beyond  de- 
scription, and  the  scene  was  wild  and  grand.     Joy  and 
gladness  exhausted  all  forms  of  expression,  from  shouts 
of  praise  to  sobs  and  tears.     My  old  friend  Rue,  a  colored 
preacher,  a  man  of  wonderful  vocal  power,  expressed  the 
heartfelt  emotion  of  the  hour,  when  he  led  all  voices  in 
the  anthem,  "  Sound  the  loud  timbrel  o'er  Egypt's  dark 
sea,  Jehovah    hath    triumphed,   his   people    are    free." 
About  twelve  o'clock,  seeing  there  was  no  disposition  to 
retire  from  the  hall,  which  must  be  vacated,  my  friend 
Grimes  (of  blessed  memory),  rose  and  moved  that  the 
meeting  adjourn  to  the  Twelfth  Baptist  church,  of  which 
he  was  pastor,  and  soon  that  church  was  packed  from  doors 
to  pulpit,  and  this  meeting  did  not  break  up  till  near  the 


dawn  of  day.  It  was  one  of  tlie  most  affecting  and  thrill- 
ing occasions  I  ever  witnessed,  and  a  worthy  celebration 
of  the  first  step  on  the  part  of  the  nation  in  its  departure 
from  the  thraldom  of  ages. 

There  was  evidently  no  disposition  on  the  part  of  this 
meeting  to  criticise  the  proclamation  ;  nor  was  there  with 
any  one  at  -first.  At  the  moment  we  saw  only  its  anti- 
slavery  side.  But  further  and  more  critical  examination 
showed  it  to  be  extremely  defective.  It  was  not  a  proc- 
lamation of  "  liberty  throughout  all  the  land,  unto  all  the 
inhabitants  thereof,"  such  as  we  had  hoped  it  would  be  ; 
but  was  one  marked  by  discriminations  and  reservations. 
Its  operation  was  confined  within  certain  geographical 
and  military  lines.  It  only  abolished  slavery  where  it 
did  not  exist,  and  left  it  intact  where  it  did  exist.  It  was 
a  measure  apparently  inspired  by  the  low  motive  of  mili- 
tary necessity,  and  by  so  far  as  it  was  so,  it  would  become 
inoperative  and  useless  when  military  necessity  should 
cease.  There  was  much  said  in  this  line,  and  much  that 
was  narrow  and  erroneous.  For  my  own  part,  I  took  the 
proclamation,  first  and  last,  for  a  little  more  than  it  pur- 
ported, and  saw  in  its  spirit  a  life  and  power  far  beyond 
its  letter.  Its  meaning  to  me  was  the  entire  abolition  of 
slavery,  wherever  the  evil  could  be  reached  by  the  Fed- 
eral arm,  and  I  saw  that  its  moral  power  would  extend 
much  further.  It  was  in  my  estimation  an  immense  gain 
to  have  the  war  for  the  Union  committed  to  the  extinction 
of  slavery,  even  from  a  military  necessity.  It  is  not  a 
bad  thing  to  have  individuals  or  nations  do  right,  though 
they  do  so  from  selfish  motives.  I  approved  the  one- 
spur-wisdom  of  "  Paddy,"  who  thought  if  he  could  get  one 
side  of  his  horse  to  go,  he  could  trust  the  speed  of  the 
other  side. 

Tlie  effect  of  the  proclamation  abroad  was  highly  bene- 
ficial to  the  loyal  cause.     Disinterested  parties  could  now 

BUT   AN   IMMENSE   GAIN.  431 

see  in  it  a  benevolent  character.  It  was  no  longer  a  mere 
strife  for  territory  and  dominion,  but  a  contest  of  civiliza- 
tion against  barbarism. 

The  proclamation  itself  was  like  Mr.  Lincoln  through- 
out. It  was  framed  with  a  view  to  the  least  harm  and 
the  most  good  possible  in  the  circumstances,  and  with 
especial  consideration  of  the  latter.  It  was  thoughtful, 
cautious,  and  well  guarded  at  all  points.  While  he  hated 
slavery,  and  really  desired  its  destruction,  he  always  pro- 
ceeded against  it  in  a  manner  the  least  likely  to  shock  or 
drive  from  him  any  who  were  truly  in  sympathy  with  the 
preservation  of  the  Union,  but  who  were  not  friendly  to 
emancipation.  For  this  he  kept  up  the  distinction  be- 
tween loyal  and  disloyal  slaveholders,  and  discriminated 
in  favor  of  the  one,  as  against  the  other.  In  a  word,  in 
all  that  he  did,  or  attempted,  he  made  it  manifest  that 
the  one^reat  and  all-commanding  object  with  him  was  the 
peace  and  preservation  of  the  Union,  and  that  this  was  the 
motive  and  main-spring  of  all  his  measures.  His  wisdom 
and  moderation  at  this  point  were  for  a  season  useful  to 
the  loyal  cause  in  the  border  States,  but  it  may  be  fairly 
questioned  whether  it  did  not  chill  the  union  ardor  of  the 
loyal  people  of  the  North  in  some  degree,  and  diminish 
rather  than  increase  the  sum  of  our  power  against  the  re- 
bellion ;  for  moderate,  cautious,  and  guarded  as  was  this 
proclamation,  it  created  a  howl  of  indignation  and  wrath 
amongst  the  rebels  and  their  allies.  The  old  cry  was 
raised  by  the  copperhead  organs  of  "an  abolition  war," 
and  a  pretext  was  thus  found  for  an  excuse  for  refusing 
to  enlist,  and  for  marshaling  all  the  negro  prejudice  of 
the  North  on  the  rebel  side.  Men  could  say  they  were 
willing  to  fight  for  the  Union,  but  that  they  were  not 
willing  to  fight  for  the  freedom  of  the  negroes ;  and  thus 
it  was  made  difficult  to  procure  enlistments  or  to  enforce 
the  draft.     This  was  especially  true  of  New  York,  where 

432  MOB   LAW   IN    NEW   YORK. 

there  was  a  large  Irish  population.  The  attempt  to 
enforce  the  draft  in  that  city  was  met  by  mobs,  riot,  and 
bloodshed.  There  is  perhaps  no  darker  chapter  in  the 
whole  history  of  the  war  than  this  cowardly  and  bloody 
uprising  in  July,  1863.  For  three  days  and  nights  New 
York  was  in  the  hands  of  a  ferocious  mob,  and  there  was 
not  sufficient  power  in  the  government  of  the  country  or 
of  the  city  itself  to  stay  the  hand  of  violence  and  the  ef- 
fusion of  blood.  Though  this  mob  was  nominally  against 
the  draft  which  had  been  ordered,  it  poured  out  its  fiercest 
wrath  upon  the  colored  people  and  their  friends.  It 
spared  neither  age  nor  sex  ;  it  hanged  negroes  simply  be- 
cause they  were  negroes ;  it  murdered  women  in  their 
homes,  and  burnt  their  homes  over  their  heads ;  it  dashed 
out  the  brains  of  young  children  against  the  lamp-posts ; 
it  burned  the  colored  orphan  asylum,  a  noble  charity  on 
the  corner  of  Fifth  avenue,  and  scarce  allowing  time  for 
the  helpless  two  hundred  children  to  make  good  their 
escape,  plundering  the  building  of  every  valuable  piece  of 
furniture ;  and  colored  men,  women,  and  children  were 
forced  to  seek  concealment  in  cellars  or  garrets  or  where- 
soever else  it  could  be  found,  until  this  high  carnival  of 
crime  and  reign  of  terror  should  pass  away. 
,  In  connection  with  George  L.  Stearns,  Thomas  Web- 
iter,  and  Col.  Wagner,  I  had  been  at  Camp  William  Penn, 
Philadelphia,  assisting  in  the  work  of  filling  up  the  col- 
ored regiments,  and  was  on  my  way  home  from  there  just 
as  these  events  were  transpiring  in  New  York.  I  was 
met  by  a  friend  at  Newark,  who  informed  me  of  this  con- 
dition of  things.  I,  however,  pressed  on  my  way  to  the 
Chambers  street  station  of  the  Hudson  River  Railroad  in 
safety,  the  mob  being  in  the  upper  part  of  the  city,  for- 
tunately for  me,  for  not  only  my  color,  but  my  known 
activity  in  procuring  enlistments,  would  have  made  me 
especially  obnoxious  to  its  murderous  spirit.     This  was 


not  the  first  time  I  had  been  in  imminent  peril  in  New 
York  city.  My  first  arrival  there,  after  my  escape  from 
slavery,  was  full  of  danger.  My  passage  through  its 
borders  after  the  attack  of  John  Brown  on  Harper's  Ferry 
was  scarcely  less  safe.  I  had  encountered  Isaiah  Rynders 
and  his  gang  of  ruffians  in  the  old  Broadway  Tabernacle 
at  our  anti-slavery  anniversary  meeting,  and  I  knew 
something  of  the  crazy  temper  of  such  crowds ;  but  this 
anti-draft,  anti-negro  mob,  was  something  more  and  some- 
thing worse — it  was  a  part  of  the  rebel  force,  without  the 
rebel  uniform,  but  with  all  its  deadly  hate ;  it  was  the  fire 
of  the  enemy  opened  in  the  rear  of  the  loyal  army.  Such 
men  as  Franklin  Pierce  and  Horatio  Seymour  had  done 
much  in  their  utterances  to  encourage  resistance  to  the 
drafts.  Seymour  was  then  Governor  of  the  Slate  of  New 
York,  and  while  the  mob  was  doing  its  deadly  work  he 
address'ed  them  as  "  My  friends,"  telling  them  to  desist 
then,  while  he  could  arrange  at  Washington  to  have  the 
draft  arrested.  Had  Governor  Seymour  been  loyal  to  his 
country,  and  to  his  country's  cause,  in  this  her  moment 
of  need,  he  would  have  burned  his  tongue  with  a  red  hot 
iron  sooner  than  allow  it  to  call  these  thugs,  thieves, 
and  murderers  his  "  friends." 

My  interviews  with  President  Lincoln  and  his  able 
Secretary,  before  narrated,  greatly  increased  my  confi- 
dence in  the  anti-slavery  integrity  of  the  government, 
although  I  confess  I  was  greatly  disappointed  at  my  fail- 
ure to  receive  the  commission  promised  me  by  Secretary 
Stanton.  I,  however,  faithfully  believed,  and  loudly  pro- 
claimed my  belief,  that  the  rebellion  would  be  suppressed, 
the  Union  preserved,  the  slaves  emancipated,  and  the 
colored  soldiers  would  in  the  end  have  justice  done  them. 
This  confidence  was  immeasurably  strengthened  when  I 
saw  Gen.  George  B.  McClellan  relieved  from  the  com- 
mand of  the  army  of  the  Potomac  and  Gen.  U.  S.  Grant 

434  m'clellan  and  grant. 

})laccd  at  its  head,  and  in  command  of  all  the  armies  of 
the  United  States.  My  confidence  in  Gen.  Grant  was  not 
entirely  due  to  the  brilliant  military  successes  achieved 
by  him,  but  there  was  a  moral  as  well  as  military  basis 
for  my  faith  in  him.  He  had  shown  his  single-minded- 
ness  and  superiority  to  popular  prejudice  by  his  prompt 
cooperation  with  President  Lincoln  in  his  policy  of  em- 
ploying colored  troops,  and  his  order  commanding  his 
soldiers  to  treat  such  troops  with  due  respect.  In  this 
way  he  proved  himself  to  be  not  only  a  wise  general,  but 
a  great  man — one  who  could  adjust  himself  to  new  con- 
ditions, and  adopt  the  lessons  taught  by  the  events  of  the 
hour.  This  quality  in  General  Grant  was  and  is  made 
all  the  more  conspicuous  and  striking  in  contrast  with 
his  West  Point  education  and  his  former  political  asso- 
ciations ;  for  neither  West  Point  nor  the  Democratic 
party  have  been  good  schools  in  which  to  learn  justice 
and  fair  play  to  the  negro. 

It  was  when  General  Grant  was  fighting  his  way 
through  the  Wilderness  to  Richmond,  on  the  "  line  "  he 
meant  to  pursue  "  if  it  took  all  summer,"  and  every 
reverse  to  his  arms  was  made  the  occasion  for  a  fresh 
demand  for  peace  without  emancipation,  that  President 
Lincoln  did  me  the  honor  to  invite  me  to  the  Executive 
Mansion  for  a  conference  on  the  situation.  I  need  not 
say  I  went  most  gladly.  The  main  subject  on  which  he 
wished  to  confer  with  me  was  as  to  the  means  most 
desirable  to  be  employed  outside  the  army  to  induce  the 
slaves  in  the  rebel  States  to  come  within  the  Federal 
lines.  The  increasing  opposition  to  the  war,  in  the 
North,  and  the  mad  cry  against  it,  because  it  was  being 
made  an  abolition  war,  alarmed  Mr.  Lincoln,  and  made 
him  apprehensive  that  a  peace  might  be  forced  upon  him 
which  would  leave  still  in  slavery  all  who  had  not  come 
within  our  lines.     What  he  wanted  was  to  make  his  pro- 


clamation  as  effective  as  possible  in  the  event  of  such  a 
peace.  He  said,  in  a  regretful  tone,  "  The  slaves  are  not 
coming  so  rapidly  and  so  numerously  to  us  as  I  had 
hoped."  I  replied  that  the  slaveholders  knew  how  to 
keep  such  things  from  their  slaves,  and  probably  very 
few  knew  of  his  proclamation.  "  Well,"  he  said,  "  I  want 
you  to  set  about  devising  some  means  of  making  them 
acquainted  with  it,  and  for  bringing  them  into  our  lines." 
He  spoke  with  great  earnestness  and  much  solicitude,  and 
seemed  troubled  by  the  attitude  of  Mr.  Greeley,  and  the 
growing  impatience  there  was  being  manifested  through 
the  North  at  the  war.  He  said  he  was  being  accused  of 
protracting  the  war  beyond  its  legitimate  object,  and  of 
failing  to  make  peace  when  he  might  have  done  so  to 
advantage.  He  was  afraid  of  what  might  come  of  all 
these  complaints,  but  was  persuaded  that  no  solid  and 
lasting  peace  could  come  short  of  absolute  submission  on 
the  part  of  the  rebels,  and  he  was  not  for  giving  them 
rest  by  futile  conferences  at  Niagara  Falls,  or  elsewhere, 
with  unauthorized  persons.  He  saw  the  danger  of  pre- 
mature peace,  and,  like  a  thoughtful  and  sagacious  man 
as  he  was,  he  wished  to  provide  means  of  rendering  such 
consummation  as  harmless  as  possible.  I  was  the  more 
impressed  by  this  benevolent  consideration  because  he 
before  said,  in  answer  to  the  peace  clamor,  that  his  object 
was  to  save  the  Union,  and  to  do  so  with  or  without  slav- 
ery. What  he  said  on  this  day  showed  a  deeper  moral 
conviction  against  slavery  than  I  had  ever  seen  before  in 
anything  spoken  or  written  by  him.  I  listened  with  the 
deepest  interest  and  profoundest  satisfaction,  and,  at  his 
suggestion,  agreed  to  undertake  the  organizing  a  band  of 
scouts,  composed  of  colored  men,  whose  business  should 
be  somewhat  after  the  original  plan  of  John  Brown,  to  go 
into  the  rebel  Slates,  beyond  the  lines  of  our  armies,  and 
carry  the  news  of  emancipation,  and  urge  the  slaves  to 
come  within  our  boundaries. 

436  AN   INCIDENT. 

This  plan,  however,  was  very  soon  rendered  unneces- 
sary by  the  success  of  the  war  in  the  Wilderness  and 
elsewliere,  and  by  its  termination  in  the  complete  aboli- 
tion of  slavery. 

I  refer  to  this  conversation  because  I  think  it  is  evi- 
dence conclusive  on  Mr.  Lincoln's  part  that  the  proclama- 
tion, so  far  at  least  as  he  was  concerned,  was  not  effected 
merely  as  a  "  necessity."^ 

An  incident  occurred  during  this  interview  which  illus- 
trates the  character  of  this  great  man,  though  the  men- 
tion of  it  may  savor  a  little  of  vanity  on  my  part.  While 
in  conversation  with  him  his  Secretary  twice  announced 
"  Governor  Buckingham  of  Connecticut,"  one  of  the 
noblest  and  most  patriotic  of  the  loyal  governors. 
Mr.  Lincoln  said,  "  Tell  Governor  Buckingham  to  wait, 
for  I  want  to  have  a  long  talk  with  my  friend  Frederick 
Douglass."  I  interposed,  and  begged  him  to  see  the 
Governor  at  once,  as  I  could  wait;  but  no,  he  persisted 
he  wanted  to  talk  with  me,  and  Governor  Buckingham 
could  wait.  This  was  probably  the  first  time  in  the  his- 
tory of  this  Republic  when  its  chief  magistrate  found 
occasion  or  disposition  to  exercise  such  an  act  of  impar- 
tiality between  persons  so  widely  different  in  their  "posi- 
tions and  supposed  claims  upon  his  attention.  From  the 
manner  of  the  Governor,  when  he  was  finally  admitted,  I 
inferred  that  he  was  as  well  satisfied  with  what  Mr.  Lin- 
coln had  done,  or  had  omitted  to  do,  as  I  was. 

I  have  often  said  elsewhere  what  I  wish  to  repeat  here, 
that  Mr.  Lincoln  was  not  only  a  great  President,  but  a 
GREAT  MAN — too  great  to  be  small  in  anything.  In  his 
company  I  was  never  in  any  way  reminded  of  my  humble 
origin,  or  of  my  unpopular  color.  While  I  am,  as  it  may 
seem,  bragging  of  the  kind  consideration  which  I  have 
reason  to  believe  that  Mr.  Lincoln  entertained  towards 
me,  I  may  mention  one  thing  more.     At  the  door  of  my 


friend  John  A.  Gray,  where  I  was  stopping  in  Washing- 
ton, I  found  one  afternoon  the  carriage  of  Secretary  Dole, 
and  a  messenger  from  President  Lincoln  with  an  invita- 
tion for  me  to  take  tea  with  him  at  the  Soldiers'  Home, 
where  he  then  passed  his  nights,  riding  out  after  the 
business  of  the  day  was  over  at  the  Executive  Mansion. 
Unfortunately,  I  had  an  engagement  to  speak  that  even- 
ing, and  having  made  it  one  of  the  rules  of  my  conduct 
in  life  never  to  break  an  engagement  if  possible  to  keep 
it,  I  felt  obliged  to  decline  the  honor.  I  have  often 
regretted  that  I  did  not  make  this  an  exception  to  my 
general  rule.  Could  I  have  known  that  no  such  oppor- 
tunity could  come  to  me  again,  I  should  have  justified 
myself  in  disappointing  a  large  audience  for  the  sake  of 
such  a  visit  with  Abraham  Lincoln. 

It  is  due  perhaps  to  myself  to  say  here  that  I  did  not 
take  Mr.  Lincoln's  attentions  as  due  to  my  merits  or 
personal  qualities.  While  I  have  no  doubt  that  Messrs. 
Seward  and  Chase  had  spoken  well  of  me  to  him,  and  the 
fact  of  my  having  been  a  slave,  and  gained  my  freedom, 
and  of  having  picked  up  some  sort  of  an  education,  and 
being  in  some  sense  a  "  self-made  man,"  and  having  made 
myself  useful  as  an  advocate  of  the  claims  of  my  people, 
gave  me  favor  in  his  eyes ;  yet  I  am  quite  sure  that  the 
main  thing  which  gave  me  consideration  with  him  was 
my  well-known  relation  to  the  colored  people  of  the 
Kepublic,  and  especially  the  help  which  that  relation 
enabled  me  to  give  to  the  work  of  suppressing  the  rebel- 
lion and  of  placing  the  Union  on  a  firmer  basis  than  it 
ever  had  or  could  have  sustained  in  the  days  of  slavery. 

So  long  as  there  was  any  hope  whatsoever  of  the  suc- 
cess of  Rebellion,  there  was  of  course  a  corresponding 
fear  that  a  new  lease  of  life  would  be  granted  to  slavery. 
The  proclamation  of  Fremont  in  Missouri,  the  letter  of 
Phelps  in  the  Department  of  the  Gulf,  the  enlistment  of 


colored  troops  by  Gen.  Hunter,  the  "  Contraband  "  letter 
of  Gen.  B.  F.  Butler,  the  soldierly  qualities  surprisingly 
displayed  by  colored  soldiers  in  the  terrific  battles  of 
Port  Hudson,  Yicksburg,  Morris  Island,  and  elsewhere, 
the  Emancipation  proclamation  by  Abraham  Lincoln,  had 
given  slavery  many  and  deadly  wounds,  yet  it  was  in 
fact  oidy  wounded  and  crippled,  not  disabled  and  killed. 
With  this  condition  of  national  affairs  came  the  sum- 
mer of  1864,  and  with  it  the  revived  Democratic  party 
with  the  story  in  its  mouth  that  the  war  was  a  failure, 
and  with  it  Gen.  George  B.  McClellan,  the  greatest  failure 
of  the  war,  as  its  candidate  for  the  presidency.  It  is 
needless  to  say  that  the  success  of  such  a  party,  on  such  a 
platform,  with  such  a  candidate,  at  such  a  time,  would 
have  been  a  fatal  calamity.  All  that  had  been  done 
toward  suppressing  the  rebellion  and  abolishing  slavery 
would  have  proved  of  no  avail,  and  the  final  settlement 
between  the  two  sections  of  the  Republic  touching  slavery 
and  the  right  of  secession  would  have  been  left  to  tear  and 
rend  the  country  again  dt  no  distant  future. 

It  was  said  that  this  Democratic  party,  which  under 
Mr.  Buchanan  had  betrayed  the  government  into  the 
hands  of  secession  and  treason,  was  the  only  party  which 
could  restore  the  country  to  peace  and  union.  No  doubt 
it  would  have  "  patched  up  "  a  peace,  but  it  would  have 
been  a  peace  more  to  be  dreaded  than  war.  So  at  least  I 
felt  and  worked.  When  we  were  thus  asked  to  exchange 
Abraham  Lincoln  for  McClellan — a  successful  Union 
President  for  an  unsuccessful  Union  general — a  party 
earnestly  endeavoring  to  save  the  Union,  torn  and  rent 
by  a  gigantic  rebellion,  I  thought  with  Mr.  Lincoln  that  it 
was  not  wise  to  "  swap  horses  while  crossing  a  stream." 
Regarding,  as  I  did,  the  continuance  of  the  war  to 
the  complete  suppression  of  the  rebellion  and  the  reten- 
tion in  office  of  President  Lincoln  as  essential  to  the  total 

Lincoln's  re-election.  439 

destruction  of  slavery,  I  certainly  exerted  myself  to  the 
uttermost  in  my  small  way  to  secure  his  reelection.  This 
most  important  object  was  not  attained,  however,  by 
speeches,  letters,  or  other  electioneering  appliances.  The 
staggering  blows  dealt  upon  the  rebellion  that  year 
by  the  armies  under  Grant  and  Sherman,  and  his  own 
great  character,  ground  all  opposition  to  dust  and  made 
his  election  sure  even  before  the  question  reached  the 
polls.  Since  William  the  Silent,  who  was  the  soul  of  the 
mighty  war  for  religious  liberty  against  Spain  and  the 
Spanish  inquisition,  no  leader  of  men  has  been  loved  and 
trusted  in  such  generous  measure  as  Abraham  Lincoln. 
His  election  silenced  in  a  good  degree  the  discontent  felt 
at  the  length  of  the  war,  and  the  complaints  of  its  being 
an  abolition  war.  Every  victory  of  our  arms  on  flood  and 
field  was  a  rebuke  to  McClellan  and  the  Democratic 
party,  and  an  indorsement  of  Abraham  Lincoln  for  Presi- 
dent and  his  new  policy.  It  was  my  good  fortune  to  be 
present  at  his  inauguration  in  March,  and  to  hear  on  that 
occasion  his  remarkable  inaugural  address.  On  the  night 
previous  I  took  tea  with  Chief  Justice  Chase  and  assisted 
his  beloved  daughter,  Mrs.  Sprague,  in  placing  over 
her  honored  father's  shoulders  the  new  robe  then  being 
made,  in  which  he  was  to  administer  the  oath  of  office  to 
tlie  reelected  President.  There  was  a  dignity  and  gran- 
deur about  the  Chief  Justice  which  marked  him  as  one 
born  great.  He  had  known  me  in  early  anti-slavery  days, 
and  had  conquered  his  race-prejudice,  if  he  ever  had  any ; 
at  any  rate,  he  had  welcomed  me  to  his  home  and  his 
table  when  to  do  so  was  a  strange  thing  in  Washington, 
and  the  fact  was  by  no  means  an  insignificant  one. 

The  inauguration,  like  the  election,  was  a  most  import- 
ant event.  Four  years  before,  after  Mr.  Lincoln's  first 
election,  the  pro-slavery  spirit  determined  against  his  in- 
auguration, and  it  no  doubt  would  have  accomplished  its 

440  Lincoln's  inauguration. 

purpose  had  he  attempted  to  pass  openly  and  recognized 
through  Baltimore.  There  was  murder  in  tli.e  air  then, 
and  there  was  murder  in  the  air  now.  His  first  inaugu- 
ration arrested  the  fall  of  the  Republic,  and  the  second 
was  to  restore  it  to  enduring  foundations.  At  the  time  of 
the  second  inauguration  the  rebellion  was  apparently  vig- 
orous, defiant,  and  formidable,  but  in  reality,  weak,  de- 
jected, and  desperate.  It  had  reached  that  verge  of 
madness  when  it  had  called  upon  the  negro  for  help  to 
fight  against  the  freedom  which  he  so  longed  to  find,  for 
the  bondage  he  would  escape — against  Lincoln  the  eman- 
cipator for  Davis  the  enslaver.  Blit  desperation  discards 
logic  as  well  as  law,  and  the  South  was  desperate.  Sher- 
man was  marching  to  the  sea,  and  Virginia  with  its  rebel 
capital  was  in  the  firm  grasp  of  Ulysses  S.  Grant.  To 
those  who  knew  the  situation  it  was  evident  that  unless 
some  startling  change  was  made  the  Confederacy  had  but 
a  short  time  to  live,  and  that  time  full  of  misery.  This 
condition  of  things  made  the  air  at  Washington  dark  and 
lowering.  The  friends  of  the  Confederate  cause  here 
were  neither  few  nor  insignificant.  They  were  among 
the  rich  and  influential.  A  wink  or  a  nod  from  such  men 
might  unchain  the  hand  of  violence  and  set  order  and 
law  at  defiance.  To  those  who  saw  beneath  the  surface  it 
was  clearly  perceived  that  there  was  danger  abroad,  and 
as  the  procession  passed  down  Pennsylvania  avenue  I  for 
one  felt  an  instinctive  apprehension  that  at  any  moment  a 
shot  from  some  assassin  in  the  crowd  might  end  the  glit- 
tering pageant  and  throw  the  country  into  the  depths  of 
anarchy.  I  did  not  then  know  what  has  since  become 
history,  that  the  plot  was  already  formed  and  its  execution 
contemplated  for  that  very  day,  which,  though  several 
weeks  delayed,  at  last  accomplished  its  deadly  work. 
Eeaching  the  Capitol,!  took  my  place  in  the  crowd  where 
I  could  seethe  presidential  procession  as  it  came  upon  the 


east  portico,  and  where  I  could  hear  and  see  all  that  took 
place.  There  was  no  such  throng  as  that  which  celebra- 
ted the  inauguration  of  President  Garfield  nor  that  of 
President  Rutherford  B.  Hayes.  The  whole  proceeding 
was  wonderfully  quiet,  earnest,  and  solemn.  From  the 
oath  as  administered  by  Chief  Justice  Cliase  to  the  brief 
but  weighty  address  delivered  by  Mr.  Lincoln,  there  was  a 
leaden  stillness  about  the  crowd.  The  address  sounded 
more  like  a  sermon  than  a  state  paper.  In  the  fewest 
words  possible  he  referred  to  the  condition  of  the  country 
four  years  before  on  his  first  accession  to  the  presidency, 
to  the  causes  of  the  war,  and  the  reasons  on  both 
sides  for  which  it  had  been  waged.  "  Neither  party,"  he 
said,  "  expected  for  the  war  the  magnitude  or  the  duration 
which  it  had  already  attained.  Neither  anticipated  that 
the  cause  of  the  conflict  might  cease  with  or  even  before 
the  conflict  itself  should  cease.  Each  looked  for  an 
easier  triumph  and  a  result  less  fundamental  and  astound- 
ing." Then  in  a  few  short  sentences  admitting  the  con- 
viction that  slavery  had  been  the  "offense  which  in 
the  providence  of  God  must  needs  come,  and  the  war  as 
the  woe  due  to  those  by  whom  the  offense  came,"  he  asks 
if  there  can  be  "  discerned  in  this  any  departure  from 
those  Divine  attributes  which  the  believers  in  a  loving 
God  always  ascribe  to  him  ?  Fondly  do  we  hope,"  he 
continued,  "fervently  do  we  pray,  that  this  mighty 
scourge  of  war  may  speedily  pass  away.  Yet  if  God  wills 
that  it  continue  until  all  the  wealth  piled  by  the  bond- 
man's two  hundred  and  fifty  years  of  unrequited  toil 
shall  be  sunk,  and  until  every  drop  of  blood  drawn  with  the 
lash  shall  be  paid  for  by  another  drawn  with  the  sword, 
as  was  said  three  thousand  years  ago,  so  still  it  must  be 
said,  '  The  judgments  of  the  Lord  are  true  and  righteous 

"  With  malice  toward  none,  with  charity  for  all,  with 

442  PRESIDENT  Lincoln's  address. 

firmness  in  the  riglit  as  God  gives  us  to  see  the  right,  let 
us  strive  to  finish  the  work  we  are  in,  to  bind  up  the 
nation's  wounds,  to  care  for  him  who  shall  have  borne  the 
battle,  and  for  his  widow  and  his  orphans,  to  do  all  which 
may  achieve  and  cherish  a  just  and  lasting  peace  among 
ourselves  and  with  all  nations." 

I  know  not  how  many  times  and  before  how  many  peo- 
ple I  have  quoted  these  solemn  words  of  our  martyred 
President.  They  struck  me  at  the  time,  and  have  seemed 
to  me  ever  since  to  contain  more  vital  substance  than  I 
have  ever  seen  compressed  in  a  space  so  narrow ;  yet  on 
this  memorable  occasion,  when  I  clapped  my  hands  in 
gladness  and  thanksgiving  at  their  utterance,  I  saw  in  the 
faces  of  many  about  me  expressions  of  widely  different 

On  this  inauguration  day,  while  waiting  for  the  opening 
of  the  ceremonies,  I  made  a  discovery  in  regard  to  the 
Vice  President,  Andrew  Johnson.  There  are  moments 
in  the  lives  of  most  men  when  the  doors  of  their  souls  are 
open,  and  unconsciously  to  themselves  their  true  charac- 
ters may  be  read  by  the  observant  eye.  It  was  at  such 
an  instant  I  caught  a  glimpse  of  the  real  nature  of 
this  man  which  all  subsequent  developments  proved  true. 
I  was  standing  in  the  crowd  by  the  side  of  Mrs.  Thomas 
J.  Dorsey,  when  Mr.  Lincoln  touched  Mr.  Johnson  and 
pointed  me  out  to  him.  The  first  expression  which  came 
to  his  face,  and  which  I  think  was  the  true  index  of  his 
heart,  was  one  of  bitter  contempt  and  aversion.  Seeing 
that  I  observed  him,  he  tried  to  assume  a  more  friendly 
appearance,  but  it  was  too  late ;  it  is  useless  to  close  the 
door  when  all  within  has  been  seen.  His  first  glance  was 
the  frown  of  the  man  ;  the  second  was  the  bland  and 
sickly  smile  of  the  demagogue.  I  turned  to  Mrs.  Dorsey 
and  said,  "Whatever  Andrew  Johnson  may  be,  he  cer- 
tainly is  no  friend  of  our  race." 


No  stronger  contrast  could  well  be  presented  between 
two  men  than  between  President  Lincoln  and  Vice-Presi- 
dent Johnson  on  this  day.  Mr.  Lincoln  was  like  one  who 
was  treading  the  hard  and  thorny  path  of  duty  and  self- 
denial;  Mr.  Johnson  was  like  one  just  from  a  drunken 
debauch.  The  face  of  the  one  was  full  of  manly  hu- 
mility, although  at  the  topmost  height  of  power  and 
pride,  the  other  was  full  of  pomp  and  swaggering  vanity. 
The  fact  was,  though  it  was  yet  early  in  the  day,  Mr. 
Johnson  was  drunk. 

In  the  evening  of  the  day  of  the  inauguration,  another 
new  experience  awaited  me.  The  usual  reception  was 
given  at  the  executive  mansion,  and  though  no  colored 
persons  had  ever  ventured  to  present  themselves  on  such 
occasions,  it  seemed  now  that  freedom  had  become  the 
law  of 'the  republic,  now  that  colored  men  were  on  the 
battle-field  mingling  their  blood  with  that  of  white  men 
in  one  common  effort  to  save  the  country,  it  was  not  too 
great  an  assumption  for  a  colored  man  to  offer  his  con- 
gratulations to  the  President  with  those  of  other  citizens. 
I  decided  to  go,  and  sought  in  vain  for  some  one  of  my 
own  color  to  accompany  me.  It  is  never  an  agreeable 
experience  to  go  where  there  can  be  any  doubt  of  wel- 
come, and  my  colored  friends  had  too  often  realized  dis- 
comfiture from  this  cause  to  be  willing  to  subject  them- 
'selves  to  such  unhappiness ;  they  wished  me  to  go,  as  my 
New  England  colored  friends  in  the  long-ago  liked  very 
well  to  have  me  take  passage  on  the  first-class  cars,  and  be 
hauled  out  and  pounded  by  rough-handed  brakemen,  to 
make  way  for  them.  It  was  plain,  then,  that  some  one 
must  lead  the  way,  and  that  if  the  colored  man  would 
have  his  rights,  he  must  take  them ;  and  now,  though  it 
was  plainly  quite  the  thing  for  me  to  attend  President 
Lincoln's  reception,  "  they  all  with  one  accord  began  to 
make  excuse."  It  was  finally  arranged  that  Mrs.  Dorsey 
should  bear  me  company,  so  together  we  joined  in  the 


grand  procession  of  citizens  from  all  parts  of  the  country, 
and  moved  slowly  towards  the  executive  mansion.  I  had 
for  some  time  looked  upon  myself  as  a  man,  but  now  in 
this  multitude  of  the  61ite  of  the  land,  I  felt  myself  a  man 
among  men.  I  regret  to  be  obliged  to  say,  however,  that 
this  comfortable  assurance  was  not  of  long  duration,  for 
on  reaching  the  door,  two  policemen  stationed  there  took 
me  rudely  by  the  arm  and  ordered  me  to  stand  back,  for 
their  directions  were  to  admit  no  persons  of  my  color. 
The  reader  need  not  be  told  that  this  was  a  disagreeable 
set-back.  But  once  in  the  battle,  I  did  not  think  it  well 
to  submit  to  repulse.  I  told  the  officers  I  ,was  quite  sure 
there  must  be  some  mistake,  for  no  such  order  could  have 
emanated  from  President  Lincoln ;  and  if  he  knew  I  was 
at  the  door  he  would  desire  my  admission.  They  then, 
to  put  an  end  to  the  parley,  as  I  suppose,  for  we  were 
obstructing  the  doorway,  and  were  not  easily  pushed 
aside,  assumed  an  air  of  politeness,  and  offered  to  con- 
duct me  in.  We  followed  their  lead,  and  soon  found  our- 
selves walking  some  planks  out  of  a  window,  which  had 
been  arranged  as  a  temporary  passage  for  the  exit  of 
visitors.  We  halted  so  soon  as  we  saw  the  trick,  and  I 
said  to  the  officers:  "You  have  deceived  me.  I  shall  not 
go  out  of  this  building  till  I  see  President  Lincoln."  At 
this  moment  a  gentleman  who  was  passing  in  recognized 
me,  and  I  said  to  him :  "  Be  so  kind  as  to  say  to  Mr! 
Lincoln  that  Frederick  Douglass  is  detained  by  officers  at 
the  door."  It  was  not  long  before  Mrs.  Dorsey  and  I 
walked  into  the  spacious  East  Room,  amid  a  scene  of 
elegance  such  as  in  this  country  I  had  never  witnessed 
before.  Like  a  mountain  pine  high  above  all  others,  Mr. 
Lincoln  stood,  in  his  grand  simplicity,  and  home-like  heanty. 
Recognizing  me,  even  before  I  reached  him,  he  exclaimed, 
so  that  all  around  could  hear  him,  "  Here  comes  my 
friend  Douglass."     Taking  me  by  the  hand,  he  said,  "  I 

author's  opinion  of  the  address.  445 

am  glad  to  see  you.  I  saw  you  in  the  crowd  to-day,  list- 
ening to  my  inaugural  address ;  how  did  you  like  it  ? "  I 
said,  "  Mr.  Lincoln,  I  must  not  detain  you  with  my  poor 
opinion,  when  there  are  thousands  waiting  to  shake 
hands  with  you."  "No,  no,"  he  said,  "you  must  stop  a 
little,  Douglass ;  there  is  no  man  in  the  country  whose 
opinion  I  value  more  than  yours.  I  want  to  know  what 
you  think  of  it?"  I  replied,  "Mr.  Lincoln,  that  was  a 
sacred  effort."  "  I  am  glad  you  liked  it !  "  he  said ;  and  I 
passed  on,  feeling  that  any  man,  however  distinguished, 
might  well  regard  himself  honored  by  such  expressions, 
from  such  a  man. 

It  came  out  that  the  officers  at  the  White  House  had 
received  no  orders  from  Mr.  Lincoln,  or  from  any  one 
else.  They  were  simply  complying  with  an  old  custom, 
the  outgrowth  of  slavery,  as  dogs  will  sometimes  rub 
their  necks,  long  after  their  collars  are  removed,  thinking 
they  are  still  there.  My  colored  friends  were  well  pleased 
with  what  had  seemed  to  them  a  doubtful  experiment, 
and  I  believe  were  encouraged  by  its  success  to  follow  my 
example.  I  have  found  in  my  experience  that  the  way  to 
break  down  an  unreasonable  custom,  is  to  contradict  it  in 
practice.  To  be  sure  in  pursuing  this  course  I  have  had 
to  contend  not  merely  with  the  white  race,  but  with  the 
black.  The  one  has  condemned  me  for  my  presumption 
iu  daring  to  associate  with  them,  and  the  other  for  push- 
ing myself  where  they  take  it  for  granted  I  am  not 
wanted.  I  am  pained  to  think  that  the  latter  objection 
springs  largely  from  a  consciousness' of  inferiority,  for  as 
colors  alone  can  have  nothing  against  each  other,  and 
the  conditions  of  human  association  are  founded  upon 
character  rather  than  color,  and  character  depends  upon 
mind  and  morals,  there  can  be  nothing  blameworthy  in 
people  thus  equal  in  meeting  each  other  on  the  plane  of 
civil  or  social  rights. 


A  series  of  important  events  followed  soon  after  the 
second  inauguration  of  Mr.  Lincoln,  conspicuous  amongst 
Avliich  was  the  fall  of  Richmond.  The  strongest  endeavor, 
and  the  best  generalship  of  the  Rebellion,  was  employed 
to  hold  that  place,  and  when  it  fell  the  pride,  prestige, 
and  power  of  the  rebellion  fell  with  it,  never  to  rise 
again.  The  news  of  this  great  event  found  me  again  in 
Boston.  The  enthusiasm  of  that  loyal  city  cannot  be 
easily  described.  As  usual  when  anything  touches  the 
great  heart  of  Boston,  Faneuil  Hall  became  vocal  and 
eloquent.  This  hall  is  an  immense  building,  and  its  his- 
tory is  correspondingly  great.  It  has  been  the  theater  of 
much  patriotic  declamation  from  the  days  of  the  "  Revo- 
lution," and  before ;  as  it  has  since  my  day  been  the 
scene  where  the  strongest  efforts  of  the  most  popular 
orators  of  Massachusetts  have  been  made.  Here  Webster, 
the  great  "  expounder,"  addressed  the  "  sea  of  upturned 
faces."  Here  Choate,  the  wonderful  Boston  barrister,  by 
his  weird,  electric  eloquence,  enchained  his  thousands ;  here 
Everett  charmed  with  his  classic  periods  the  flower  of 
Boston  aristocracy ;  and  here,  too,  Charles  Sumner,  Horace 
Mann,  John  A.  Andrew,  and  Wendell  Phillips,  the  last 
equal  to  most,  and  superior  to  many,  have  for  forty  years 
spoken  their  great  words  of  justice,  liberty,  and  humanity, 
sometimes  in  the  calm  and  sunshine  of  unruffled  peace, 
but  oftener  in  the  tempest  and  whirlwind  of  mobocratic 
violence.  It  was  here  that  Mr.  Phillips  made  his  famous 
speech  in  denunciation  of  the  murder  of  Elijah  P.  Lovejoy 
in  1837,  which  changed  the  whole  current  of  his  life,  and 
made  him  pre-eminently  the  leader  of  anti-slavery  thought 
in  New  England.  Here,  too,  Theodore  Parker,  whose  early 
death  not  only  Boston,  but  the  lovers  of  liberty  through- 
out the  world,  still  mourn,  gave  utterance  to  his  deep  and 
life-giving  thoughts  in  words  of  fullness  and  power.  But  I 
set  out  to  speak  of  the  meeting  which  was  held  there,  in 


celebration  of  the  fall  of  Richmond,  for  it  was  a  meeting  as 
remarkable  for  its  composition  as  for  its  occasion.  Among 
speakers  by  whom  it  was  addressed,  and  who  gave  voice  to 
the  patriotic  sentiments  which  filled  and  overflowed  each 
loyal  heart,  were  Hon.  Henry  Wilson,  and  Hon.  Robert 
C.  Winthrop.  It  would  be  difficult  to  find  two  public  men 
more  distinctly  opposite  than  these.  If  any  one  may  prop- 
erly boast  an  aristocratic  descent,  or  if  there  be  any 
value  or  worth  in  that  boast,  Robert  C.  Winthrop  may, 
without  undue  presumption,  avail  himself  of  it.  He  was 
born  in  the  midst  of  wealth  and  luxury,  and  never  felt 
the  flint  of  hardship  or  the  grip  of  poverty.  Just  the 
opposite  to  this  was  the  experience  of  Henry  Wilson. 
The  son  of  common  people,  wealth  and  education  had 
done  little  for  him  ;  but  he  had  in  him  a  true  heart,  and 
a  world  of  common  sense ;  and  these,  with  industry,  good 
habits,  and  perseverance,  had  carried  him  further  and 
lifted  him  higher  than  the  brilliant  man  with  whom  he 
formed  such  striking  contrast.  Winthrop,  before  the 
war,  like  many  others  of  his  class,  had  resisted  the  anti- 
slavery  current  of  his  state,  had  sided  largely  with  the 
demands  of  the  slave  power,  had  abandoned  many  of  his 
old  Whig  friends,  when  they  went  for  free  soil  and  free 
men  in  1848,  and  gone  into  the  Democratic  party. 

During  the  war  he  was  too  good  to  be  a  rebel  sympa- 
thizer, and  not  quite  good  enough  to  become  as  Wilson 
was — a  power  in  the  union  cause.  Wilson  had  risen  to 
eminence  by  his  devotion  to  liberal  ideas,  while  Win- 
throp had  sunken  almost  to  obscurity  from  his  indiffer- 
ence to  such  ideas.  But  now  either  himself  or  his 
friends,  most  likely  the  latter,  thought  that  the  time  had 
come  when  some  word  implying  interest  in  the  loyal 
cause  should  fall  from  his  lips.  It  was  not  so  much  the 
need  of  the  union,  as  the  need  of  himself,  that  he  should 
speak  ;   the   time  when  the  union  needed  him,  and  all 


others,  was  when  the  slave-holding  rebellion  raised  its 
defiant  head,  not  when,  as  now,  that  head  was  in  the  dust 
and  ashes  of  defeat  and  destruction.  But  the  beloved 
Winthrop,  the  proud  representative  of  what  Daniel  Web- 
ster once  called  the  "  solid  men  of  Boston,"  had  great 
need  to  speak  now.  It  had  been  no  fault  of  the  loyal 
cause  that  he  had  not  spoken  sooner.  Its  "  gates,  like 
those  of  Heaven,  stood  open  night  and  day."  If  he  did 
not  come  in,  it  was  his  own  fault.  Hcgiment  after  regi- 
ment, brigade  after  brigade,  had  passed  over  Boston  Com- 
mon to  endure  the  perils  and  hardships  of  war;  Governor 
Andrew  had  poured  out  his  soul,  had  exhausted  his  won- 
derful powers  of  speech  in  patriotic  words  to  the  brave 
departing  sons  of  old  Massachusetts,  and  a  word  from 
Winthrop  would  have  gone  far  to  nerve  up  those  young 
soldiers  going  forth  to  lay  down  their  lives  for  the  life  of 
the  republic  ;  but  no  word  came.*  Yet  now,  in  the  last 
quarter  of  the  eleventh  hour,  when  the  day's  work  was 
nearly  done,  Robert  C.  Winthrop  was  seen  standing  upon 
the  same  platform  with  the  veteran  Henry  Wilson.  He 
was  there  in  all  his  native  grace  and  dignity,  elegantly 
and  aristocratically  clothed,  his  whole  bearing  marking 
his  social  sphere  as  widely  different  from  many  present. 
Happily  for  his  good  name,  and  for  those  who  shall  bear 
it  when  he  is  no  longer  among  the  living,  that  he  was 
found,  even  at  the  last  hour,  in  the  right  place — in  old 
Faneuil  Hall — side  by  side  with  plain  Henry  Wilson — the 
shoemaker  senator.  But  this  was  not  the  only  contrast 
on  that  platform  on  that  day.  It  was  my  strange  for- 
tune to  follow  Mr.  Winthrop  on  this  interesting  occasion. 
I  remember  him  as  the  guest  of  John  H.  Clifford  of  New 
Bedford,  afterwards  Governor  of  Massachusetts,  when 
twenty-five  years  before,  I  had  been  only  a  few  months 
from  slavery — I  was  behind  his  chair  as  waiter,  and  was 

*  See  Note  on  page  452. 


even  then  charmed  by  his  elegant  conversation — and  now, 
after  this  lapse  of  time,  I  found  myself  no  longer  behind 
the  chair  of  this  princely  man,  but  announced  to  succeed 
liim  in  the  order  of  speakers,  before  that  brilliant  audi- 
ence. I  was  not  insensible  to  the  contrast  in  our  history 
and  positions,  and  was  curious  to  observe  if  it  affected 
him,  and  how.  To  his  credit,  I  am  happy  to  say  he  bore 
himself  grandly  throughout.  His  speech  was  fully  up  to 
the  enthusiasm  of  the  hour,  and  the  great  audience 
greeted  his  utterances  with  merited  applause.  I  need 
not  speak  of  the  speeches  of  Henry  Wilson  and  others,  or 
of  my  own.  The  meeting  was  every  way  a  remarkable 
expression  of  popular  feeling,  created  by  a  great  and  im- 
portant event. 

After  the  fall  of  Richmond  the  collapse  of  the  rebellion 
was  not  long  delayed,  though  it  did  not  perish  without 
adding  to  its  long  list  of  atrocities  one  which  sent  a  thrill 
of  horror  throughout  the  civilized  world,  in  the  assassina- 
tion of  Abraham  Lincoln ;  a  man  so  amiable,  so  kind, 
humane,  and  honest,  that  one  is  at  a  loss  to  know  how  he 
could  have  had  an  enemy  on  earth.  The  details  of  his 
"  taking  off  "  are  too  familiar  to  be  more  than  mentioned 
here.  The  recently-attempted  assassination  of  James 
Abraham  Garfield  has  made  us  all  too  painfully  familiar 
with  the  shock  and  sensation  produced  by  the  hell-black 
crime  to  make  any  description  necessary.  The  curious 
will  note  that  the  Christian  name  of  both  men  is  the 
same,  and  that  both  were  remarkable  for  their  kind  quali- 
ties and  for  having  risen  by  their  own  energies  from 
among  the  people,  and  that  both  were  victims  of  assassins 
at  the  beginning  of  a  presidential  term. 

Mr.  Lincoln  had  reason  to  look  forward  to  a  peaceful 
and  happy  term  of  office.  To  all  appearance,  we  were 
on  the  eve  of  a  restoration  of  the  union,  and  a  solid  and 
lasting  peace.     He  had  served  one  term  as  President  of 


tlie  Disunited  States,  he  was  now  for  tlie  first  time  to  be 
President  of  the  United  States.  Heavy  had  been  his  bur- 
den, hard  had  been  his  toil,  bitter  had  been  his  trials, 
and  terrible  had  been  his  anxiety  ;  but  the  future  seemed 
now  bright  and  full  of  hope.  Richmond  had  fallen.  Grant 
had  General  Lee  and  the  army  of  Virginia  firmly  in  his 
clutch  ;  Sherman  had  fought  and  found  his  way  from  the 
banks  of  the  great  river  to  the  shores  of  the  sea,  leaving 
the  two  ends  of  the  rebellion  squirming  and  twisting  in 
agony,  like  the  severed  parts  of  a  serpent,  doomed  to 
inevitable  death  ;  and  now  there  was  but  a  little  time 
longer  for  the  good  President  to  bear  his  burden,  and  be 
the  target  of  reproach.  His  accusers,  in  w^hose  opinion 
he  was  always  too  fast  or  too  slow,  too  weak  or  too 
strong,  too  conciliatory  or  too  aggressive,  would  soon 
become  his  admirers  ;  it  was  soon  to  be  seen  that  he  had 
conducted  the  affairs  of  the  nation  with  singular  wisdom, 
and  with  absolute  fidelity  to  the  great  trust  confided  in 
him.  A  country  redeemed  and  regenerated  from  the 
foulest  crime  against  human  nature  that  ever  saw  the 
sun!  What  a  bright  vision  of  peace,  prosperity,  and 
happiness  must  have  come  to  that  tired  and  over-worked 
brain,  and  weary  spirit.  Men  used  to  talk  of  his  jokes, 
and  he  no  doubt  indulged  in  them ;  but  I  seemed  never  to 
have  the  faculty  of  calling  them  to  the  surface.  I  saw 
him  oftener  than  many  who  have  reported  him,  but  I 
never  saw  any  levity  in  him.  He  always  impressed  me 
as  a  strong,  earnest  man,  having  no  time  or  disposition 
to  trifle ;  grappling  with  all  his  might  the  work  he  had  in 
hand.  The  expression  of  his  face  was  a  blending  of 
suffering  with  patience  and  fortitude.  Men  called  him 
homely,  and  homely  he  was  ;  but  it  was  manifestly  a 
human  homeliness,  for  there  was  nothing  of  the  tiger  or 
other  wild  animal  about  him.  His  eyes  had  in  them  the 
tenderness  of  motherhood,  and  his  mouth  and  other  fea- 

DR.  Robinson's  speech.  451 

tures  the  highest  perfection  of  a  genuine  manhood.  His 
picture,  now  before  me  in  my  study,  by  Marshall,  corres- 
ponds well  with  the  impression  I  have  of  him.  But, 
alas  !  what  are  all  good  and  great  qualities ;  what  are  hu- 
man hopes  and  human  happiness  to  the  revengeful  hand 
of  an  assassin  ?  What  are  sweet  dreams  of  peace  ;  what 
are  visions  of  the  future  ?  A  simple  leaden  bullet,  and 
a  few  grains  of  powder,  in  the  shortest  limit  of  time,  are 
sufficient  to  blast  and  ruin  all  that  is  precious  in  human 
existence,  not  alone  of  the  murdered,  but  of  the  mur- 
derer. I  write  this  in  the  deep  gloom  flung  over  my 
spirit  by  the  cruel,  wanton,  and  cold-blooded  attempted 
assassination  of  Abraham  Garfield,  as  well  as  that  of 
Abraham  Lincoln. 

I  was  in  Rochester,  N.  Y.,  where  I  then  resided,  when 
news  of  the  death  of  Mr.  Lincoln  was  received.  Our 
citizens,  not  knowing  what  else  to  do  in  the  agony  of  the 
hour,  betook  themselves  to  the  city  hall.  Though  all 
hearts  aclied  for  utterance,  few  felt  like  speaking.  We 
were  stunned  and  overwhelmed  by  a  crime  and  calamity 
hitherto  unknown  to  our  country  and  our  government. 
The  hour  was  hardly  one  for  speech,  for  no  speech  could 
rise  to  the  level  of  feeling.  Doctor  Robinson,  then 
of  Rochester  University,  but  now  of  Brown  University, 
Providence,  R.  I.,  was  prevailed  upon  to  take  the  stand, 
and  made  one  of  the  most  touching  and  eloquent  speeches 
I  ever  heard.  At  the  close  of  his  address,  I  was  called 
upon,  and  spoke  out  of  the  fullness  of  my  heart,  and, 
happily,  I  gave  expression  to  so  much  of  the  soul  of  the 
people  present  that  my  voice  was  several  times  utterly 
silenced  by  the  sympathetic  tumult  of  the  great  audience. 
I  had  resided  long  in  Rochester,  and  had  made  many 
speeches  there  which  had  more  or  less  touched  the  hearts 
of  my  hearers,  but  never  till  this  day  was  I  brought  into 
such  close  accord  with  them.     We  shared  in  common  a 


terrible  calamity,  and  this  "touch  of  nature  made  us" 
more  than  countrymen,  it  made  us  "kin."* 

*  I  sincerely  regret  that  I  have  done  Mr.  Winthrop  great  injustice. 
This  Faneuil  Hall  speech  of  his  was  not  the  first  manifestation  of  his 
zealous  interest  in  the  loyal  cause  during  the  late  war.  While  it  is 
quite  true  that  Mr.  Winthrop  was  strongly  against  the  anti-slavery 
movement  at  the  North,  his  addresses  and  speeches  delivered  during 
the  war,  as  they  have  come  to  my  knowledge  since  writing  the  fore- 
going chapter,  prove  him  to  have  been  among  the  most  earnest  in  his 
support  of  the  National  Government  in  its  efforts  to  suppress  the 

rebellion  and  to  restore  the  Union. 

Frederick  Douglass. 



Satisfaction  and  anxiety — New  tields  of  labor  opening — Lyceums  and 
colleges  soliciting  addresses — Literary  attractions — Pecuniary  gain — 
Still  pleading  for  human  rights — President  Andy  Johnson — Colored 
delegation — Their  reply  to  him — National  Loyalist  Convention, 
1866,  and  its  procession — Not  wanted — Meeting  with  an  old  friend — 
Joy  and  surprise — The  old  master's  welcome,  and  Miss  Amanda's 
friendship — Enfranchisement  discussed — Its  accomplishment — The 
negro  a  citizen. 

WHEN  the  war  for  the  Union  was  substantially 
ended,  and  peace  had  dawned  upon  the  land,  as 
was  the  case  almost  immediately  after  the  tragic  death  of 
President  Lincoln ;  when  the  gigantic  system  of  Ameri- 
can slavery  which  had  defied  the  march  of  time,  resisted 
all  the  appeals  and  arguments  of  the  abolitionists,  and 
the  humane  testimonies  of  good  men  of  every  generation 
during  two  hundred  and  fifty  years,  was  finally  abolished 
and  forever  prohibited  by  the  organic  law  of  the  land,  a 
strange  and,  perhaps,  perverse  feeling  came  over  me. 
My  great  and  exceeding  joy  over  these  stupendous 
achievements,  especially  over  the  abolition  of  slavery 
(which  had  been  the  deepest  desire  and  the  great  labor 
of  my  life),  was  slightly  tinged  with  a  feeling  of  sadness. 
I  felt  I  had  reached  the  end  of  the  noblest  and  best 
part  of  my  life ;  my  school  was  broken  up,  my  church 
disbanded,  and  the  beloved  congregation  dispersed,  never 
to  come  together  again.  The  anti-slavery  platform  had 
performed  its  work,  and  my  voice  was  no  longer  needed. 
"  Othello's  occupation  was  gone."  The  great  happiness 
of  meeting  with  my  fellow-workers  was  now  to  be  among 
19  r453) 


the  things  of  memory.     Then,  too,  some  thought  of  my 
personal  future  came  in.     Like  Daniel  Webster,  when 
asked  by  liis  friends  to  leave  John  Tyler's  cabinet,  I 
naturally  inquired :  "Where  shall  I  go?"     I  was  still  in 
the  midst  of  my  years,  and  had  something  of  life  l)efore 
me,  and  as  the  minister  (urged  by  my  old  friend  George 
Eradburn   to   preach   anti-slavery,   wlien   to   do   so  was 
unpopular)  said,  "  It  is  necessary  for  ministers  to  live," 
I  felt  it  was  necessary  for  me  to  live,  and  to  live  lionestly. 
But  where  should  I  go,  and  what  should  I  do  ?     I  could 
not  now  take  hold  of  life  as  I  did  when  I  first  landed  in 
New  Bedford,  twenty-five  years  before ;  I  could  not  go  to 
the  wharf  of  either  Gideon  or  George  Howland,  to  Rich- 
mond's  brass   foundry,   or    Richetson's   candle   and    oil 
works,  load  and  unload  vessels,  or  even  ask  Governor 
Clifford  for  a  place  as  a  servant.     Rolling  oil-casks  and 
shoveling  coal  were  all  well  enough  when  I  was  younger, 
immediately  after  getting  out  of  slavery.     Doing  this  was 
a  step  up,  rather  than  a  step  down ;  but  all  these  avoca- 
tions had  had  their  day  for  me,  and  I  had  had  my  day 
for  them.     My  public  life  and  labors  had  unfitted  me  for 
the  pursuits  of  my  earlier  years,  and  yet  had  not  prepared 
me  for  more  congenial  and  higher  employment.     Outside 
the  question  of  slavery  my  thoughts  had  not  been  much 
directed,  and  1  could  hardly  hope  to  make  myself  useful 
in  any  other  cause  than  that  to  which  I  had  given  the 
best  twenty-five  years  of  my  life.     A  man  in  the  situation 
I  found  myself  has  not  only  to  divest  himself  of  the  old, 
which  is  never  easily  done,  but  to  adjust  himself  to  the 
new,  which  is  still  more  difficult.     Delivering  lectures 
under  various  names,  John  B.  Gough  says,  "  Whatever 
may  be  the  title,  my  lecture  is  always  on  Temperance " ; 
and  such  is  apt  to  be  the  case  with  any  man  who  has 
devoted  his  time  and  thoughts  to  one  subject  for  any 
considerable  length  of  time.     But  what  should  I  do,  was 


the  question.  I  had  a  few  thousand  dollars  (a  great  con- 
venience, and  one  not  generally  so  highly  prized  by  my 
people  as  it  ought  to  be)  saved  from  the  sale  of  "  My 
Bondage  and  My  Freedom,"  and  the  proceeds  of  my  lec- 
tures at  home  and  abroad,  and  with  this  sum  I  thought 
of  following  the  noble  example  of  my  old  friends  Stephen 
and  Abby  Kelley  Foster,  purchase  a  little  farm  and  settle 
myself  down  to  earn  an  honest  living  by  tilling  the  soil. 
My  children  were  all  grown  up,  and  ought  to  be  able  to 
take  care  of  themselves.  This  question,  however,  was 
soon  decided  for  me.  I  had  after  all  acquired  (a  very 
unusual  thing)  a  little  more  knowledge  and  aptitude 
fitting  me  for  the  new  condition  of  things  than  I  knew, 
and  had  a  deeper  hold  upon  public  attention  than  I  had 
supposed.  Invitations  began  to  pour  in  upon  me  from 
colleges,  lyceums,  and  literary  societies,  offering  me  one 
hundred,  and  even  two  hundred  dollars  for  a  single 

I  had,  some  time  before,  prepared  a  lecture  on  "  Self- 
made  Men,"  and  also  one  upon  Ethnology,  with  special 
reference  to  Africa.  The  latter  had  cost  me  much  labor, 
though,  as  I  now  look  back  upon  it,  it  was  a  very  defect- 
ive production.  I  wrote  it  at  the  instance  of  my  friend 
Doctor  M.  B.  Anderson,  President  of  Rochester  Univer- 
sity, himself  a  distinguished  ethnologist,  a  deep  thinker 
and  scholar.  I  had  been  invited  by  one  of  the  literary 
societies  of  Western  Reserve  College  (then  at  Hudson, 
but  recently  removed  to  Cleveland,  Ohio),  to  address  it 
on  Commencement  day ;  and  never  having  spoken  on 
such  an  occasion,  never,  indeed,  having  been  myself 
inside  of  a  school-house  for  the  purpose  of  an  education, 
I  hesitated  about  accepting  the  invitation,  and  finally 
called  upon  Prof.  Henry  Wayland,  son  of  the  great  Doc- 
tor Wayland  of  Brown  University,  and  on  Doctor  Ander- 
son, and  asked  their  advice  whether  I  ought  to  accept. 


Both  gentlemen  advised  me  to  do  so.  They  knew  me, 
and  evidently  thought  well  of  my  ability.  But  the  puz- 
zling question  now  was,  what  shall  I  say  if  I  do  go  there  ? 
It  won't  do  to  give  them  an  old-fashioned  anti-slavery 
discourse.  (I  learned  afterwards  that  such  a  discourse 
was  precisely  what  they  needed,  though  not  what  they 
wished ;  for  the  faculty,  including  the  President,  was  in 
great  distress  because  I,  a  colored  man,  had  been  invited, 
and  because  of  the  reproach  this  circumstance  might 
bring  upon  the  College.)  But  what  shall  I  talk  about  ? 
became  the  difficult  question.  I  finally  hit  upon  the  one 
before  mentioned.  I  had  read,  when  in  England  a  few 
years  before,  with  great  interest,  parts  of  Doctor  Pritch- 
ard's  "  Natural  History  of  Man,"  a  large  volume  marvel- 
ousl}'  calm  and  philosophical  in  its  discussion  of  the 
science  of  the  origin  of  the  races,  and  was  thus  in  the  line 
of  my  then  convictions.  I  sought  this  valuable  book  at 
once  in  our  bookstores,  but  could  not  obtain  it  anywhere 
in  this  country.  I  sent  to  England,  where  I  paid  the  sum 
of  seven  and  a  half  dollars  for  it.  In  addition  to  this 
valuable  work  President  Anderson  kindly  gave  me  a  little 
book  entitled  "Man  and  His  Migrations,"  by  Dr.  R.  G-. 
Latham,  and  loaned  me  the  large  work  of  Dr.  Morton,  the 
famous  archaeologist,  and  that  of  Messrs.  Nott  and  Glid- 
den,  the  latter  written  evidently  to  degrade  the  Negro  and 
support  the  then-prevalent  Calhoun  doctrine  of  the  right- 
fulness of  slavery.  With  these  books  and  occasional 
suggestions  from  Dr.  Anderson  and  Prof.  Wayland  I  set 
about  preparing  my  commencement  address.  For  many 
days  and  nights  I  toiled,  and  succeeded  at  last  in  getting 
something  together  in  due  form.  Written  orations  had 
not  been  in  my  line.  I  had  usually  depended  upon 
my  unsystematized  knowledge  and  the  inspiration  of  the 
hour  and  the  occasion,  but  I  had  now  got  the  "  scholar  bee 
in  my  bonnet,"  and  supposed  that  inasmuch  as  I  was  to 

A   NEW   FIELD   OPENS.  457 

speak  to  college  professors  and  students  I  must  at  least 
make  a  show  of  some  familiarity  with  letters.  It  proved, 
as  to  its  immediate  effect,  a  great  mistake,  for  my  care- 
fully-studied and  written  address,  full  of  learned  quota- 
tions, fell  dead  at  my  feet,  while  a  few  remarks  I  made 
extemporaneously  at  collation  were  enthusiastically  re- 
ceived. Nevertheless,  the  reading  and  labor  expended 
were  of  much  value  to  me.  They  were  needed  steps 
preparatory  to  the  work  upon  which  I  was  about  to  enter. 
If  they  failed  at  the  beginning,  they  helped  to  success  in 
the  end.  My  lecture  on  "  The  Races  of  Men  "  was  seldom 
called  for,  but  that  on  "  Self-made  Men"  was  in  great  de- 
mand, especially  through  the  West.  I  found  that  the 
success  of  a  lecturer  depends  more  upon  the  quality  of  his 
stock  in  store  than  the  amount.  My  friend  Wendell 
Phillips  (for  such  I  esteem  him),  who  has  said  more 
cheering  words  to  me  and  in  vindication  of  my  race  than 
any  man  now  living,  has  delivered  his  famous  lecture  on 
the  "Lost  Arts  "  during  the  last  forty  years  ;  and  I  doubt 
if  among  all  his  lectures,  and  he  has  many,  there  is  one  in 
such  requisition  as  this.  When  Daniel  O'Connell  was 
asked  why  he  did  not  make  a  new  speech  he  playfully  re- 
plied that  "  it  would  take  Ireland  twenty  years  to  learn 
his  old  ones."  Upon  some  such  consideration  as  this  I 
adhered  pretty  closely  to  my  old  lecture  on  "  Self-made 
Men,"  retouching  and  shading  it  a  little  from  time  to 
time  as  occasion  seemed  to  require. 

Here,  then,  was  a  new  vocation  before  me,  full  of  advan- 
tages mentally  and  pecuniarily.  When  in  the  employ- 
ment of  the  American  Anti-Slavery  Society  my  salary  was 
about  four  hundred  and  fifty  dollars  a  year,  and  I  felt  I 
was  well  paid  for  my  services ;  but  I  could  now  make 
from  fifty  to  a  hundred  dollars  a  night,  and  have  the  sat- 
isfaction, too,  that  I  was  in  some  small  measure  helping 
to  lift  my  race  into  consideration,  for  no  man  who  lives  at 


all  lives  unto  liimself — he  cither  helps  or  hinders  all  who 
are  in  any  wise  connected  with  him.  I  never  rise  to 
speak  before  an  American  audience  without  something  of 
the  feeling  that  my  failure  or  success  will  bring  blame  or 
benefit  to  my  whole  race.  But  my  activities  were  not 
now  confined  entirely  to  lectures  before  lyceums.  Though 
slavery  was  abolished,  the  wrongs  of  my  peo})le  were  not 
ended.  Though  they  were  not  slaves,  they  were  not  yet 
quite  free.  No  man  can  be  truly  free  whose  liberty  is  de- 
pendent upon  the  thought,  feeling,  and  action  of  others, 
and  w^ho  has  himself  no  means  in  his  own  hands  for 
guarding,  protecting,  defending,  and  maintaining  that  lib- 
erty. Yet  the  Negro  after  his  emancipation  was  precisely 
in  this  state  of  destitution.  The  law  on  the  side  of  free- 
dom is  of  great  advantage  only  where  there  is  power 
to  make  that  law  respected.  I  know  no  class  of  my 
fellow-men,  however  just,  enlightened,  and  humane,  which 
can  be  wisely  and  safely  trusted  absolutely  with  the  liber- 
ties of  any  other  class.  Protestants  are  excellent  people, 
but  it  would  not  be  wise  for  Catholics  to  depend  entirely 
upon  them  to  look  after  their  rights  and  interests.  Cath- 
olics are  a  pretty  good  sort  of  people  (though  there  is 
a  soul-shuddering  history  behind  them), yet  no  enlightened 
Protestants  would  commit  their  liberty  to  their  care  and 
keeping.  And  yet  the  government  had  left  the  freedmen 
in  a  worse  condition  than  either  of  these.  It  felt  that  it 
had  done  enough  for  him.  It  had  made  him  free,  and 
henceforth  he  must  make  his  own  way  in  the  world,  or, 
as  the  slang  phrase  has  it,  "root,  pig,  or  die."  Yet 
he  had  none  of  the  conditions  for  self-preservation  or  self- 
protection.  He  was  free  from  the  individual  master,  but 
the  slave  of  society.  He  had  neither  money,  property, 
nor  friends.  He  was  free  from  the  old  plantation,  but  he 
had  nothing  but  the  dusty  road  under  his  feet.  He  was 
free  from  the  old  quarter  that  once  gave  him  shelter,  but 


a  slave  to  the  rains  of  summer  and  the  frosts  of  winter. 
He  was,  in  a  Avord,  literally  turned  loose,  naked,  hungry, 
and  destitute,  to  the  open  sky.  The  first  feeling  toward 
him  by  the  old  master  classes  was  full  of  bitterness 
and  wrath.  They  resented  his  emancipation  as  an  act  of 
hostility  toward  them,  and,  since  they  could  not  punish 
the  emancipator,  they  felt  like  punishing  the  object  which 
that  act  had  emancipated.  Hence  they  drove  him  off  the 
old  plantation,  and  told  him  he  was  no  longer  wanted 
there.  They  not  only  hated  him  because  he  had  been 
freed  as  a  punishment  to  them,  but  because  they  felt  that 
they  had  been  robbed  of  his  labor.  An  element  of  great- 
er bitterness  still  came  into  their  hearts  ;  the  freedman 
had  been  the  friend  of  the  government,  and  many  of  his 
class  had  borne  arms  against  them  during  the  war.  The 
thought  of  paying  cash  for  labor  that  they  could  formerly 
extort  by  the  lash  did  not  in  any  wise  improve  their  dis- 
position to  the  emancipated  slave,  or  improve  his  own 
condition.  Now,  since  poverty  has,  and  can  have,  no 
chance  against  wealth,  the  landless  against  the  land- 
owner, the  ignorant  against  the  intelligent,  the  freedman 
was  powerless.  He  had  nothing  left  him  but  a  slavery- 
distorted  and  diseased  body,  and  lame  and  twisted  limbs, 
,with  which  to  fight  the  battle  of  life.  I  therefore  soon  found 
that  the  Negro  had  still  a  cause,  and  that  he  needed  my 
voice  and  pen  with  others  to  plead  for  it.  The  American 
Anti-Slavery  Society  under  the  lead  of  Mr.  Garrison  had 
disbanded,  its  newspapers  were  discontinued,  its  agents 
were  withdrawn  from  the  field,  and  all  systematic  efforts 
by  abolitionists  were  abandoned.  Many  of  the  society, 
Mr.  Phillips  and  myself  amongst  the  number,  differed 
from  Mr.  Garrison  as  to  the  wisdom  of  this  course.  I 
felt  that  the  work  of  the  society  was  not  done  ;  that 
it  had  not  fulfilled  its  mission,  which  was  not  merely  to 
emancipate,  but  to   elevate    the    enslaved   class.      But 


against  Mr.  Garrison's  leadership,  and  the  surprise  and 
joy  occasioned  by  the  emancipation,  it  was  impossible  to 
keep  the  association  alive,  and  the  cause  of  the  freedmen 
was  left  mainly  to  individual  effort  and  to  hastily-extem- 
porized societies  of  an  ephemeral  character;  brought 
together  under  benevolent  impulse,  but  having  no  history 
behind  them,  and  being  new  to  the  work,  they  were  not  as 
effective  for  good  as  the  old  society  would  have  been  had 
it  followed  up  its  work  and  kept  its  old  instrumentalities 
in  operation. 

From  the  first  I  saw  no  chance  of  bettering  the  condi- 
tion of  the  freedman  until  he  should  cease  to  be  merely  a 
freedman  and  should  become  a  citizen.  I  insisted  that 
there  was  no  safety  for  him  or  for  anybody  else  in  America 
outside  the  American  government;  that  to  guard,  pro- 
tect, and  maintain  l)is  liberty  the  freedman  should  have 
the  ballot ;  that  the  liberties  of  the  American  people 
were  dependent  upon  the  ballot-box,  the  jury-box,  and  the 
cartridge-box  ;  that  without  these  no  class  of  people  could 
live  and  flourish  in  this  country ;  and  this  was  now  the 
word  for  the  hour  with  me,  and  the  word  to  which 
the  people  of  the  North  willingly  listened  when  I  spoke. 
Hence,  regarding  as  I  did  the  elective  franchise  as  the 
one  great  power  by  which  all  civil  rights  are  obtained,  en- 
joyed, and  maintained  under  our  form  of  government,  and 
the  one  without  which  freedom  to  any  class  is  delusive  if 
not  impossible,  I  set  myself  to  work  with  whatever  force 
and  energy  I  possessed  to  secure  this  power  for  the 
recently-emancipated  millions. 

The  demand  for  the  ballot  was  such  a  vast  advance 
upon  the  former  objects  proclaimed  by  the  friends  of  the 
colored  race,  that  it  startled  and  struck  men  as  prepos- 
terous and  wholly  inadmissible.  Anti-slavery  men  them- 
selves were  not  united  as  to  the  wisdom  of  such  demand. 
Mr.  Garrison  himself,  though  foremost  for  the  abolition 



of  slavery,  was  not  yet  quite  ready  to  join  this  advanced 
movement.  In  this  respect  he  was  in  the  rear  of  Mr. 
Phillips,  who  saw  not  only  the  justice,  but  the  wisdom 
and  necessity  of  the  measure.  To  his  credit  it  may  be 
said,  that  he  gave  the  full  strength  of  his  character  and 
eloquence  to  its  adoption.  While  Mr.  Garrison  thought 
it  too  much  to  ask,  Mr.  Phillips  thought  it  too  little. 
While  the  one  thought  it  might  be  po